Lack of real preparation reduces sales price


What is the most common mistake made by those selling homes?

Ask any Cape estate agent this question and he (or she) will almost invariably tell you that overpricing is the big fault.

Bill Rawson, Chairman of Rawson Properties, now on one of the fastest expansion trails ever seen in the South African property world, would agree with this - but, he would add, almost as common is a regrettable reluctance to prepare the home properly for viewers.

'A few hundred or even a few thousand rand spent on a repaint, a treatment of the doors and windows and a tidying up of the garden will always - without fail - pay handsome dividends,' says Rawson.

South African sellers, he says, all too often have a take-it or leave-it attitude - but this is short sighted.

'One has to realise that the reaction to a home is partly rational and partly subliminal. Small factors like dog, cat or pet scents, stained carpets, frayed curtains, childrens toys or clothes strewn around, green swimming pool water, peeling paint on the entrance gate and other such trivial matters can ruin the buyers reaction'

Some people, adds Rawson, not only object to dog scents but actually dislike dogs and cats as well - so pets should definitely be kept out of the way when viewers are around.

On the positive side, he says, fresh flowers placed in the main rooms, soft music playing in the background and perhaps an offer of tea from a good looking tea set can, says Rawson, swing a deal in the sellers favour. The trick is to turn a house into a home - to make it seem "homey".

Agents, Rawson believes, should try to cajole sellers into doing the necessary improvements before the viewers arrive - but all too often they do not.

'One frequently hears an agent tell a possible buyer that he could achieve a marked increase in the value of the home by this or that improvement - but in my experience the average South African buyer wants a complete home on which minimal work is required and does not have the vision to see how certain homes can be upgraded'

Rawson also advises that if the house is put on show the owners should absent themselves for the entire day. Their presence, he says, can inhibit frank discussion, enquiry and criticism between the agent and the possible buyer and, again, result in no sale taking place.
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