The Bad Old Days are Over

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Hands up all of those who remember the old days when buying and selling property was a little more difficult than it is today. Actually, it wasn’t that long ago when agents would arrive with the office instamatic camera and start snapping away. It was then a case of racing to the photography shop to have the pictures developed and then racing back to retake the photos if they hadn’t come out in the desired fashion. Blurry little pictures graced agency shop fronts and it was often very difficult to get any idea of what the house really looked like without physically viewing them. Advertising property in a newspaper was difficult and owners must have felt a little jolt when they realised that the black and white grainy picture that looked nothing like their actual home was indeed there pride and joy.

There were no emails, no fax machines, no cell phones and no Internet. Buying a second home was a bit of a challenge as the owners often lived out of town and buyers would have to wait patiently while the sales agreement was posted to the owner and then go through the whole process again if the seller came back with a counter offer. You have to have felt a little sorry for estate agents of the day… they worked themselves silly.

Then came digital cameras, Photoshop and the Internet. Suddenly anyone and everyone could be a Lord Litchfield and any home could be enhanced to look like a palace. Houses that were put on the market in the morning could be all over the web by the afternoon and buying ‘sight unseen’ became the new buzz word of the industry. Buyers could now also go on holiday, see a home they wanted and have the deal signed and approved within days…long before the romance of their vacation had started to wear off. Estate agents were in their element.

Just when it seems that things can’t get any better or easier they do. These days there are smart phone apps that allow you to drive around a suburb while pointing your device at various properties in the street and the phone will not only ‘tell’ you which properties are for sale, it will show you pictures of the interior, give a broad description as well as providing the agents contact details. Oh yes, life has certainly changed in the fast lane.

The Internet has completely revolutionised the way people buy and sell property. Although there are very few people these days that will buy a property without physically viewing the home, the fact that agents are now able to expose the property to hundreds of thousands if not millions of potential buyers at the click of a button has opened up an entirely new wealth of possibilities. Think about it for a second; 10 years ago a picture of the property would have been showcased in a high-street agency. If you didn’t live in the area, you wouldn’t have been aware that it even existed. It may have been advertised in the local paper, but you still wouldn’t have had any idea of what the home really looked like. No, in the bad old days, it was a case of hopefully hooking up with the right agent who understood your needs perfectly and driving around for hours looking at everything and anything on the agency’s books.

In the fast-paced life of today, the average person does not have days to waste looking at unsuitable properties. While they may still drive around, they are going to physically view far less properties than before, because they have an excellent idea as to what is out there and how much it costs. In a nutshell, the days of sellers quickly tidying up before the agent arrives with the buyer are over. Houses need to be on show from the moment you put it on the market. After all, a digital camera never lies.

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