Is your Agent good enough?

Private Property South Africa
Rawson

The real test of an estate agent's ability and dedication is not so much how he markets and sells a property, but how fully they are involved with the seller, the buyer and the conveyance, as well as certain other service providers after the sale has gone through. This was said recently by Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group.

"As soon as the sale document is signed, the seller will be expected to work through a range of tasks - and it is the estate agent who must ensure that he does this correctly and on time. If he does not, it is quite possible that certain suspensive clauses in the Deed of Sale will not be met on time - and it has to be remembered that if any due date is missed, it can make the deal invalid or, at the very least, result in difficult, awkward and prolonged delays."

Matters such as obtaining a mortgage bond and getting the clearance certificates from specialist contractors certified to check the electrics, the plumbing and the gas installations are some of the tasks referred to. In the case of such technical issues, he said, the specialists employed have on occasions been known to invent problems so as to be able to rectify them and pump up their bills. A good estate agent will assist with this process and make sure this does not happen.

Keep the conveyancer on track

It is also important, said Clarke, to ensure that the Rates Clearance Certificate is received from the municipality on time. In theory this should be the duty of the conveyancer - but it is the estate agent's job to keep the conveyancer on track time-wise.

"Thereafter," said Clarke, "it is essential to get confirmation from SARS that the transfer duty has been paid and, by liaising with the conveyancer, check that all legal documents are signed and have been delivered."

Suspensive clauses, said Clarke, can be extensive and in some cases four or five other sales and transfers will depend on the one in question.

"To allow these to be on hold or even cancelled is just not acceptable," he said. In the circumstances, said Clarke, the selection of an estate agent is of utmost importance and the seller cannot be too careful in finding the right person.

The agent should be able to show:

  • That he knows the area and its market conditions well and, if possible, that he has operated in that area for some time;

  • That he will advertise thoroughly through online platforms and in the printed media;

  • That he has a "Plan B" in case of no buyer is coming forward; and

  • That he declares any links, e.g. family ties, to other parties involved.

Repeating a message that he has disseminated for some years now, Clarke said that the "cheapest" are never the best.

"If an agent is only too willing to operate on a cut-throat commission and if he does not at least ask to handle the sale on a sole mandate, these are indications that he is probably a second- or third-league player."

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