Give Respect, Get Respect

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Estate agents in general do not have the best of reputations; however, it is never good to generalise about a particular group. It is pretty obvious that there are ‘bad’ agents in South Africa, but there are also some outstanding people who have helped millions of people around the country to buy or sell a property.

Agents are human beings and as such become frustrated and annoyed just like the rest of us. Let’s be honest here, selling real estate is not for the faint hearted. There is no set salary and payment for services rendered often only occurs months after the deal has been signed. For some reason, perhaps because no money initially changes hands, many buyers and sellers milk the situation for all it is worth and give agents the run around.

It stands to reason that the more professional you are with your agent, the more professional your agent will be with you. There are certain things that make an agent see red and these are best avoided.


Don’t misrepresent your buying power. Buyers over- or under-estimating what they can afford is one of the most common problems agents face. Hoping to impress an agent by telling them that you can afford a property that is completely out of your financial reach is an absolute no no. Similarly telling an agent that you can afford a lower amount, in the hope of finding a bargain, generally backfires and the buyer ends up wasting both his and the agent’s time.

Don’t give out false buying signals. This is often a nasty habit exhibited by people pleasers who don’t want to offend either the agent or the seller or both. Rule of thumb: if you have no interest in a property, say so at the earliest convenience. This isn’t going to offend anyone and will prevent two things: 1. getting the seller’s hopes up and 2. the agent showing the buyer similar unsuitable properties.

Don’t ever try and weasel out of a deal. Agents generally know their stuff and know when a buyer who has signed on the dotted line is trying to avoid the sale merely because he has changed his mind.

Don't abuse agents for the faults in the properties you are shown. This is far more common that most believe. An agent is merely that - an agent employed by the owner to sell a home and although he may recommend that certain aspects of the home are fixed before the property goes on to the market, he has absolutely no control as to whether the repairs are carried out.

On a positive note, befriend your agent. When it comes to tough negotiations it pays to have them fairly representing your interests.


Don't play hard to get. If you want a valuation simply say so. If you really want to sell your home, put it on the market at a fair price. Overpriced properties are a dime a dozen on estate agents books. It's a wish list not a sales list.

Unless you are auctioning the property, do not try to inflate the sales price by increasing the price once an offer has come in. Once you have set an expectation in the market place, don't change your mind. Although this is more common during boom times, many sellers, particularly those who get a good offer fairly quickly, start to second guess themselves and believe that the property has an excellent chance of selling for a higher price. More often than not, this is not the case and when the property does eventually sell, it is often for less than the original offer.

Don't hang around on show day trying to impress buyers with the various features of the home. You'll cramp the agent’s style and cause buyers to clam up.

Don't shy away from honest appraisals. If the majority of agents are telling you one thing, don't think that the agent who says that the property is worth way more is going to sell it at that price.

Remember, one man’s meat is another man’s poison - don't take the comments from buyers personally and certainly don’t blame the agent if the feedback is less than favourable.

Again like most human beings, agents don’t want to offend. Listen to subtle hints that the agent puts out regarding the state of the home and act on this subtle advice.

Agents are the hand not the brain; they are a creature of instruction. Although they have a duty to disclose in full to buyers they also have a duty to their principal and cannot openly divulge certain things. For instance, the fact that there is a messy divorce underway in the seller’s household is not something the agent can divulge, unless instructed to by the seller. Buyers should learn to read between the lines when dealing with an agent and learn to trust their own perception. With these two skills they’ll often pick up on trouble in paradise.

On a similar note, a seller can also take the agent into their confidence by informing them that although the advertised price is a certain amount that they would be willing to accept a lower offer as the sale is urgent. Again, the agent may not disclose this information to the buyer without the seller’s permission.

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