Advice and Opinion

Be careful when buying a home privately

Real Estate generic

Selling or buying a home privately might appear to be a means to saving money, but beware! There could be pitfalls, and you could find yourself frustrated and out of pocket in the long run.

Brian Hickson, Jawitz Properties’ Midrand franchisee principal says that buying or selling a property does not only amount to the exchange of cash. “There are stringent legal requirements and procedures that have to be adhered to, not to mention a strict code of ethics that estate agents have to abide by. Estate agents have to be registered with the Estate Agents Affairs Board (EAAB) and be suitably qualified, for a very good reason. These, of course, would not apply to an individual selling a property”.

Watch out for these potential pitfalls when buying privately:

– As a buyer, you need to be aware of biased contracts that could favor the seller.
– It is in your interest to deal with an agent who works in the area and who can advise on current market trends. He/she will also be able to protect the interests of both seller and buyer, not only during the sale, but throughout the transfer process.
– Hidden defects in the home could easily be overlooked, resulting in expensive repairs at a later stage. An agent would be able to spot them, or at least ask the owner pertinent questions.- – – Loopholes in the sales agreement may be detrimental to the buyer further down the line. Contracts often contain unrealistic requirements regarding the period allowed to secure a loan or to effect transfer, which would place the deal, and the buyer’s deposit, at risk.
– If there is no provision for fittings in the offer to purchase, a seller could abscond with blinds, carpets, stoves and the like.

Selling privately

Selling your home might save you money in the short-term by cutting out the estate agent’s commission, but the marketing and advertising campaign are costly and time consuming.

– Estate agencies have long-term relationships with the property media and buy space in bulk. They are therefore able to negotiate reasonable advertising rates on your behalf.
– A credit check needs to be done to minimize the risk of the deal falling through should the buyer not be able to afford the property.
– An agent can draw up an offer to purchase inclusive of all aspects of the sale.
– This will not only look after your interests, as the client, but will also those of the buyer.
– An offer to purchase agreement is often couched in legalese making the content difficult to interpret.  A qualified estate agent will always be on hand to take you through the document and explain any clause that is not fully understood.
– During the transfer phase, you would need a transferring attorney. As estate agencies work with transferring attorneys on a daily basis, a reputable firm could be recommended, if required.