Don't Try To Be A Slumdog Millionaire

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Who wants to be a millionaire...well most of us actually. Even though a million Rand isn't what it used to be, it still sounds pretty good.

The previous property boom undoubtedly made large numbers of sellers millionaires overnight, however the subsequent economic fallout seemingly put paid to that when many buyers were no longer willing or able to afford to buy a somewhat-average home for such a relatively high figure.

Unfortunately, there are still sellers out there who assume that buyers are willing to pay a premium for any property. This, however, is not the case and those who want to market a home for a million or more need to ensure that the house virtually screams value-for-money and is in tip-top shape.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA, says that although there are thousands of buyers are out hunting for upgrade properties worth more than R1-million at the moment, sellers who want their attention need to present right as well as price right.

"While low interest rates and rising consumer confidence in the property market have substantially boosted interest and activity in recent months, there is still a lot of competition for buyer attention, and owners of R1m-plus properties who want the best possible price need to ensure that their homes have great curb appeal. This is especially true in the mid-range of the market that our company serves – which is homes priced from R2m to R4m.”

Geffen makes a very valid point when he says that there is a big psychological difference between R999 000 and R1-million or slightly more for buyers coming out of a market that has been depressed for more than five years.

“There is still something about a seven-figure price tag that makes them look hard for added value or future savings - and we have noticed that this value-consciousness is even more pronounced when buyers are moving up from a home in the R1m to R2m bracket to one priced at more than R2m.”

First impressions are often the lasting ones and those who are hoping to attract 'high-end' buyers need to ensure that the property is a virtual showpiece before listing the home. Put the home under a virtual microscope and try to see the property from a buyer's perspective.

The home should be immaculate inside and out. The garden should be neat and tidy and any paintwork either inside or outside should be in pristine condition. In other words the seller may have to spend money if they hope to attract a buyer who is willing to pay the asking price. It is still a so-called buyer's market out there and it's pretty obvious that if the property in question doesn't match similar priced homes in the same area, it is going to be overlooked.

Geffen also notes that the modern buyer tends to prefer light, spacious homes and for this reason it may be wise to rid the property of clutter, heavy furnishings and elaborate window dressings.

When it comes to marketing the home Geffen recommends granting a sole mandate to an expert agent who can maximise the exposure of an upmarket house to the most likely potential buyers,without attracting undue attention from the merely curious.

“We are aware that many wealthy sellers have security or privacy fears when it comes to holding a show day or advertising their properties, but real visibility in the marketplace, so that genuine prospective buyers can ‘see and touch’ the value being offered, remains the critical element in a successful sale.”


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