After the offer to purchase

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Once the offer to purchase has been made on a property, a seller has various points to consider.

So you've decided to sell. It wasn't necessarily an easy decision, but nevertheless the ‘for sale’ boards are up. What happens next will depend on a number of factors including the prevailing housing market, the price at which you are marketing and the value that's on offer.

There have been rumblings in various media to the effect that we have entered a buyers’ market. And in many areas buyers are sitting back and waiting to see what happens on the political front and keeping a close eye on the economic situation and/or how well the Rand is (or isn't) performing. While buyers may be biding their time, this doesn't stop sellers wanting to offload their properties. This means houses continue to go on to the market, tipping the scales further in favour of buyers because they know that someone, somewhere down the line who has to sell is going to drop their price.

In his recently released e-book, 5 strategies in a Changing Market, Grant Gavin from RE/MAX Panache says it's important that sellers are aware of what generally happens when a property is first put on the market and offers start coming in.

In most cases, everything the home owner and the estate agent do in the first three to four weeks should lead to a point where they can almost feel that something is about to happen. It is important that the seller is aware of this buildup in momentum, and that they don’t let it slip by turning away a good offer.

He adds that buyers who are genuinely interested in a property are going to ask questions and the more serious the interest, the more probing these questions can be. This, Gavin points out, is because the buyer wants to justify to themselves why they should - or shouldn't - buy this particular home.

A good estate agent needs to have the answer to everything that could affect a sale either negatively or positively. Questions regarding security are often at the forefront of most buyers’ minds, but issues such as noise as well as the overall condition of a home are generally topics that will also be raised. Agents who are armed with all the information will make a good impression and this will, in turn, boost the chances of a sale.

“Remember that when an offer arrives, it is the first ‘sign’ you will receive from the market about the pricing and competitiveness of your home versus others for sale at the same time. It’s at this point where you actually get to see what value buyers are attaching to your home, and as much as it hurts like a punch to the stomach when the first offer is lower than you expected, you have to approach the negotiation process like a business person,” says Gavin.

“Remove the emotion. Think back to your first valuation appointment with the estate agent and their original assessment on price, and don’t ever allow yourself to be forced into signing an offer without having had a reasonable period of time to consider it carefully.”

Sellers have the following options once an offer has been received. They can:

  • Accept the offer and let the buyer have the home.
  • Reject the offer outright and hold onto the home.
  • Countersign the agreement for a higher price, and hope the buyer agrees.
  • Consult with the agent for advice before taking a final decision.

It goes without saying that everyone wants to achieve the best price possible for their home, but Gavin says that this doesn't mean sellers should put the sale at risk in order to pocket a few thousand rands more. As he correctly points out, the best deals in business are those where both parties walk away thinking that they are the winners, or at least, have been party to a fair deal.

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