Cheap ways to sell your home

By Staff Writer
By Ashleigh Brown, journalist, Justmoney 
Estate agents can be expensive. Commission charged by an estate agent can range anywhere between 5% and 8% of the sale price of your home, with the average normally around 7.5% according to reports. That means if your property sells for R5 million the estate agent, at 7.5% gets R375,000!
However, there are ways to sell your home without an estate agent and there are also ways to reduce the commission costs and save yourself money. 
You will need to put in some extra effort into selling your own home but it is not impossible to do. We look at some handy tips in order to get a house in top selling shape, and make its way onto the market without the need of an expensive estate agent.  
Valuating the property 
This is normally where an estate agent would come in most handy: knowing how much your property is worth. However, there are ways to find this out without the need of an estate agent. You will need to do your own research, looking at what similar houses in the area sold for, and what the market is like at the moment. 
There are also online valuation tools which can help you to get an idea of your properties price. One such tool is the Rawson Properties online valuation tool (click here), which is free, and can simply be filled in online. If you would like a more in depth valuation, then call the Rawson sales team and an agent will be sent out to you, also free of charge. 
Another such online valuation is Lightstone Property. They offer valuation for homes starting from R60. For more information, click here
Make it presentable 
Clutter, dirty clothes and unmade beds are not a pretty sight for anybody wanting to buy a home. Even though your stuff will all be out of the house when you move, nobody wants to see what a house could look like in a messy state. 
The best is to clean up before you take photos to advertise your house, or before you have someone come over to view it. 
“A fresh coat of paint goes a long way to alluring a buyer.  Uncluttering the home is essential.  Quirky personalities are great and a good sense of humour in the home is wonderful, but sometimes if it is not executed properly, it can come across a bit kitsch, so keeping the home, clean, tidy and in a neutral palette will help new buyers visualise themselves in the home,” said Steven Graham, the owner of Steven Graham Interior Designs. 
Advertising your home
There are many different ways to advertise your property. Gumtree is one online site where you can upload photos and descriptions of your homes for potential buyers for free. If you want your advert to stand out though you have to pay Gumtree R39 to have it highlighted for seven days. If you want it up for longer you can, for example, have it featured as a ‘top ad’ for seven days at R279 or 31 days at R499. Search portal Ananzi is another such site that allows you to advertise properties for free.
However, if you want to make sure that your property will most definitely be seen, then you can list them on property websites, but it will cost you. PrivateProperty has an online listing service, where you can upload photos, descriptions and your contact details for perspective buyers. The standard rate is R1 295 for a standard six month listing. For more information, click here.
Before you load anything online, you need to take photos of your house. The saying goes, ‘a photo says a thousand words’, but sometimes, when advertising a property it can leave you with a thousand questions. Therefore, make sure that you take the best photos you can of your house.
A professional photographer can be quite expensive, sometimes even charging R600 an hour. If you want the best pictures for your home, and are not comfortable with your own photography skills, then hiring a professional is the best bet.
Open house
Making a good first impression is essential to finding a buyer for your house. When you have an open house, make sure the clutter and mess is put away (as mentioned in the above point ‘Make it presentable’. 
“If two similar properties are in the same area and are priced within the same bracket, it will be the condition and way the property looks that determines which one will be sold first. The overall look and feel of the home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor and prospective buyers will use their sensual perception to react to what they see, hear, feel, and smell even though the property may have been priced at fair market value,” says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Certificates for sale 
When you sell a house, you will also be responsible for obtaining all clearance certificates for the property. These would include an Electrical Certificate of Compliance (ECOC) which must not be older than two years and must cover all electrical installations during this time. Also, water and plumbing certificates, gas certificate, electrical fence and beetle certificates if applicable, need to be organised. 
If no repairs are required, the cost of obtaining all the certificates will be approximately R2 500 depending on the service providers used.
“Although it will largely depend on the agreement of sale between the buyer and seller, all other repairs around the house that need to be completed will be for the seller’s account. The costs of such repairs will be solely reliant on what needs to be done as well as the contractors that the seller chooses to use,” says Goslett.
Also remember that a seller will be required to pay a bond cancellation fee also in the region of R2 500, which is payable to the attorney and is applicable even if the bond is at a nil balance. “It is important to note that the seller will need to provide their bondholder with three months written notice to cancel their bond. Failure to do so will result in the seller having to pay a bond penalty, which will equate to approximately a bond instalment for every month of notice not given,” explained Goslett. 
If you are not sure what the bond and transfer costs are going to be on the property, then you can find out here
Property transfer 
When you have had an offer and accepted it, you will need to get a signed agreement of sale. This is a written agreement in which the purchaser, the seller and the house as well as the purchase price is specified. This is essential to constitute a binding agreement of sale.
After this, when the agreement of sale has been finalised, the property will need to be transferred from the seller to the buyer. Chas Everitt explains on their website that: “the conveyancer takes the necessary steps to effect registration of transfer of the [house] in the relevant Deeds Office. Both the purchaser and the seller will be required to call at the offices of the conveyancer to sign the necessary transfer documents which have been prepared by the conveyancer and which will enable them to effect transfer.” 
Along with these, you will need the other documents as stated in the point above, ‘Certificates for sale’. 
If you want to calculate how much the conveyancer fees will be, click here. For comprehensive tables on conveyance costs, as of September 2014, click here
Cheaper estate agents
If you don’t want to go through the effort of selling your home by yourselfbut at the same time not want to spend too much money on estate agents, there are alternative services on offer. 
PayGo Agents allows customers to book agents online and pay for only the services they requirefor example: advertising, paperwork and on show hostings. This agency enables you to hire agents who used to work for Pam Golding and Seeff to do all this work for you but on a pay as you go per hour basis. 
Andrew Smith, the CEO of PayGo Agent, says that everyone’s needs are different, and sometimes people do not want to pay the 5% commission, but want to still have a little bit of help. The service was launched seven months ago, and hourly rates depend on the agents themselves. However, they can range anywhere between R800 to R1 400 an hour. 
Steeple is another online agency which charges only 1.5% commission, with a minimum commission of R20 000. With Steeple you, as the seller, have to do your own open house, or show people around your property. However, everything else which a ‘normal’ estate agent would provide – such as valuating the property advertising and helping with the paper work - is offered. 
When selling your home always shop around for the best deals. If you feel like you need an estate agent, then make sure you get your money’s worth for the service you are getting. If you do want to go at it by yourself, then make sure you have planned it out, and know exactly what costs are involved. 

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