Top 5 tips for first time sellers

Private Property South Africa
RE/MAX

Advice abounds for first time buyers, but where should first time sellers start?

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that for first time sellers, the task of selling their home could be equally as daunting as buying one would be for first time buyers.

“The whole process can be exceptionally daunting for a first time seller who has never been through the process from this side of the fence,” says Goslett. “Their perception as a seller is very different to the one they had as a buyer, in that now the value of the house is no longer measured by what fair market value would be, but rather by the enjoyment that came from living in one,” he says. Goslett notes that while it’s normal for sellers to be emotionally attached to their home, they need to distance themselves from the emotional aspect as soon as they make the decision to sell.

While each home sale is unique in that different conditions of sale will be present, first-time sellers were once first time buyers, so it makes sense then that they would more than likely be selling smaller homes that are popular with first-time buyers and those looking to downscale. Whatever the property, Goslett gives first time sellers some solid pointers on where to start.

1. Why are you selling?

Are you selling to upgrade, downscale or for financial reasons? What is your time frame and how negotiable are you? Goslett says sellers need to understand clearly what they want to achieve from the sale, which would hinge on why they were selling in the first place.

2. Choose the right agent to market your property

As soon as a homeowner has decided to sell their property, they should start looking for a reputable estate agent to assist them and help guide them through the process and make it as hassle free as possible. Goslett suggests that sellers interview agents until they find the right one. He says that sellers should focus on the agent’s ability to communicate effectively, level of service, market knowledge and insight.

3. Get your price right

In the current market, sellers need to decide between price and timing. “The more overinflated the price, the longer the home will sit on the market. Remember, buyers hold the cards and have a wide choice of properties for sale,” says Goslett, who notes that since most sellers want the best price in the shortest amount of time, it is best to get a reputable agent to assess the market value of your home so you can get the best of both. Your agent should know your local market conditions, what's selling, what isn't selling, and why and be able to advise you accordingly.

4. Aesthetics count more than you know

You only get one chance to impress potential buyers. Goslett says that when a buyer walks in to view your property, they immediately assess whether or not they would want to live there. “A neat, clean home would ensure a positive answer to that question more often than not,” he says. Tidy away your clutter, make sure the home is clean – from the carpets to the windows, and make each area look as attractive and inviting as possible to showcase your home’s best assets.

5. If it’s broke, fix it

Any new homeowner wants a house in good working order and will more than likely check these things before signing an offer to purchase. “In fact,” says Goslett, “home inspections are becoming more popular, which means sellers need to ensure everything is in working order, from light bulbs to plug switches and plumbing.”

Goslett points out that since the market currently favours buyers with good credit records or available cash, they are calling the shots. “This means that sellers are finding more and more that they need to up their game when it comes to getting their home sale-ready and that they often need to add in some extras to sweeten the deal,” he says. According to Goslett this also means that sellers should spend wisely on any renovations or upgrades before selling, and make sure that they are in areas of the home that will pay off and add to the value of the offering.

“Ultimately the location, condition and price of the home will determine how quickly it sells,” says Goslett. “Sellers can only control the condition of the home and the price they set. In current market conditions, these factors count, a lot.”

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