Oh its Not Haunted? In That Case I'll Take it...

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

There are agents out there who will seemingly go to any lengths to sell a property. A recent Facebook posting highlighted this when a photograph showing a secondary sign, tacked on to the bottom of a 'for sale' board, informed all and sundry that the property was definitely not haunted.

The story goes that a RE/MAX agent in the USA had been struggling to sell a property for some time. The property eventually sold, but the buyer decided to pull out of the deal shortly before transfer took place. The ‘sold’ banner had to be removed and replaced with a new 'for sale' sign.

Any agent will tell you that it is often more difficult to resell a home that has been advertised as sold. This is because perceptions play a huge role in the minds of buyers and if they are aware that a sale has collapsed, they will more often than not assume that this is because something is wrong with the home.

It seems that one of the most common urban legends in the States is that sales collapse because a house is haunted and, in an effort to inject a little humour and dispel this common notion, the ingenious agent publicly stated that the home did not have a resident ghost. The plan worked and the property sold fairly quickly.

South Africans may not be as concerned with paranormal activity as their US counterparts. However, it is still a concern when a sale collapses and a home has to be reintroduced to the market. It has often been said that the buyer of today is far savvier than those of yesteryear. They are, and with the advent of the Internet, it has become far easier to keep tabs on the goings on in the property world. It stands to reason that someone who is interested in a property is going to be very aware that it has been sold and are going to start asking questions when they notice that the home is once again on the market.

House sales in South Africa collapse all the time for a variety of reasons, but one of the most devastating has to be because the bank supplying the bond cannot find value. In other words, a financial institution will not grant a bond if, in their estimation, the property is not worth the selling price.

There are some who would argue that banks will look for - and find - any excuse to avoid granting a bond. However, this argument doesn't really hold much water, as there are, truth be told, many overpriced properties on the market. As has been stated before, sellers may find someone who is willing to pay an inflated price, but the banks, however are not that willing to fund the deal.

Agents are always being told that they need to tell the truth and in fact, are bound by their rules of conduct to do so. However, what does the agent tell future buyers if a seller is unwilling to lower the selling price once a sale has fallen through for this reason? And perhaps more importantly, are any banks approached by the new buyer going to come to a different conclusion?

Of course, it can be said with some certainty that banks get it wrong every now and again, but then, given South African sellers’ high expectations, one has to wonder how often this actually occurs.

It seems the message is pretty clear. Call in various agents to value your home. Ask for concrete evidence as to how they have determined the value and place the property on the market at the suggested price. Chancing your luck and hoping to secure a higher price could well backfire, leaving the seller with a stale property.

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