5 dangerous property myths debunked

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

When selling your home, there are some common misconceptions that could end up losing you money. Here’s what to avoid.

When you're told something often enough, ten to one you're going to end up believing it. However, no matter which way you twist and turn things, a myth is something that has no evidence to support it, and is merely a story that's been repeated so often that people regard it as fact. Sadly, when it comes to property the most common myths can end up hurting your pocket.

Myth number one - you’ll always make more money if you sell the home yourself.

This is a tricky one because while there may be sellers who have managed to save money by selling directly, there are also those who have lost money because they weren't fully versed in the ins and outs of selling property. It may well be fair to say that those who buy and sell on fairly regular basis are more than able to sell a home and make a handsome profit, but novices need to weigh up all the pros and cons very carefully before taking what could turn out to be a costly leap into the unknown. Agents generally have a database of buyers who are actively looking for property. It could of course be argued that the Internet ensures that anyone looking for a home in your area will see your advert. However, finding someone who is interested in buying is only part of the process and the fact that estate agents qualify buyers before they start showing them properties essentially means you are assured that every buyer the agent brings around can actually afford to buy.

On another note, buyers should be aware that some who opt to sell privately will incorporate an agent’s commission into the deal even when there isn't an agent in sight.

Myth number two – you know the true value of your home.

Sellers get caught in this trap all the time and the truth of the matter is unless you are intimately involved in selling property in the area in which you live, you probably have no idea of its true worth. Emotions don't belong in business and when you sell a property you have to view it as a business transaction. It doesn't matter at what price other homes in the area are being marketed, the only thing that counts is the eventual selling price of that home. Likewise, it is of no consequence how much you still owe on the home - buyers want the best deal possible and are unlikely to pay a premium simply because they feel sorry for you. It's a far safer option to ask estate agents to value your property before putting it on the market. Ask at least three agents from different companies to give you an idea of how much you can realistically expect for the home and price the property accordingly.

Myth number three - estate agents will always under-value a home because they want to make a quick sale and pocket the commission.

Think about this logically. Agents earn less commission when they sell a lower priced property and for this reason are highly unlikely to market a home below its true value. The quickest and easiest way to get around this is by asking various agents to value the home using a comparative market analysis to back up their findings.

Myth number four - voetstoots – I can sell the house as is and the buyer has no comeback.

This is one of the more dangerous myths and is totally untrue. The voetstoots clause does mean that the home is sold ‘as is’, however this does not mean a seller can try to con a buyer by hiding or neglecting to mention patent or latent defects. The law reports are littered with cases of this nature and when it can be proven that a seller was aware of an issue, but either lied about it or chose to cover it up, that seller has been held responsible for the repairs.

Myth number five – I love the way my home looks and so will potential buyers.

Remember that tastes differ and while you may dote on your antique doll collection housed in 15 display cabinets around the lounge, buyers might not be as enthusiastic and could overlook your property for something less cluttered. Likewise, just because you simply adore your lavender and gold paint job in the master bedroom, buyers may prefer to look elsewhere for something a little more traditional.

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