Selling your first property is a huge milestone on any property journey. It can be an emotional process, but according to David Jacobs, Gauteng Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, it should never feel overwhelming, complicated or stressful.
Here are his tips for navigating a property sale for the first time with minimal anxiety and maximum success.
Know your worth
“The first step for anyone even vaguely considering selling a property should always be to get an up-to-date professional valuation,” says Jacobs. “Better yet: get two or three of them, from a variety of reputable estate agencies. That way, you have solid confirmation that you’re in the right price ballpark, and can start getting to know a few agents who might be a good fit to handle your sale.”
Jacobs says valuations can provide very useful insight into the skills and experience of an agent.
“A good valuation should include hard market data and statistics as well as more intuitive information based on an agent’s hands-on experience with buyers, sellers and the market in your area,” he says. “Price recommendations should always be supported by a comparative market analysis showing exactly how a property compares to its competition. If an agent can’t or won’t deliver this level of detail, I would be very wary of taking the professional relationship further.”
Choose your agent wisely
While knowledge, skill and experience are vital, Jacobs says they are definitely not the only attributes to look out for when selecting an estate agent.
“As a seller, you’ll be working very closely with your agent for some time,” he says. “That makes finding a good personality fit just as important as finding the right professional credentials.”
Jacobs says sole mandates typically deliver the best sales experiences, but he urges sellers to check their agent’s mandate agreement before signing anything.
“You need to be comfortable with your chosen agent’s marketing approach, cancellation policies and timelines,” he says. “If you’re unclear on any of the details, don’t be shy to ask for clarification.”
Did you know: Many sellers ask their conveyancing attorneys to check all sales-related contracts (including mandate agreements) for red flags before signing.
Get your home market ready
A little bit of sprucing up is always a good idea before a sale, but Jacobs warns sellers not to go overboard on repairs and renovations.
“If there are any material defects that could deter buyers, it’s probably worth fixing them,” he says, “but otherwise, it’s usually best to avoid major renovations right before a sale. Stick to budget-friendly updates in strategic areas like kitchens, living rooms and the master bedroom, and leave any major revamps to the new owners.”
If you’re not sure whether a specific fix or update is worthwhile, run it by your agent first – Jacobs says they’ll be able to give valuable insight into how any changes might affect a sale.
Did you know: First impressions count – adding curb appeal to your property by planting flowers at your entryway, trimming and tidying your garden and making your front door bright and welcoming can deeply influence buyers.
Understand the sales process
According to Jacobs, the better a seller understands the sales process – and their role and responsibilities within it – the better their chance of a favourable sale. As a result, he strongly advises sitting down with an estate agent to make sure expectations line up with reality.
“Sellers need to know much more than just the contractual sales process,” he says. “They need to understand how long they might be on the market, what options they have if their property doesn’t get enough attention, how often they’ll need to hold show houses, and what they can expect during negotiations. They also need to be aware of their maintenance responsibilities before transfer and understand the potential implications of things like latent and patent defects. The right real estate agent will explain all these details and more.”
Spread the word
While your real estate agent should have an extensive marketing plan for your property, Jacobs says it's still important for sellers to spread the word in their personal capacity.
“It’s not just about widening the pool of potential buyers,” he says, “although word-of-mouth referrals are certainly valuable. Sharing personal insights into a home can also be a great way to help buyers form their own emotional connection with the property, making it more likely that they will make a competitive offer. Go ahead and share your listing on social media with a short, personal description of the property and the lifestyle it offers – it could be just the nudge a buyer needs to make an enquiry.”