Advice and Opinion

Estate agent’s view on why some homes sell slowly

For Sale

There are many reasons why a home put up for sale may not find a buyer as quickly as the seller would like, but the two most common are overpricing and unrealistic expectations, says Stephen Keyter.  

Keyter says that in the focal areas served by Alexander Swart – Brackenfell, Kraaifontein and Durbanville . – house sales on average are achieved within 40 to 45 days of the property being listed, but if they are priced under R2 million the sale time will on average be reduced by half to ± 21 days. 

On three of the homes sold by Keyter he has achieved the full list price and with one exception they were all sold within 3% of the list price.

Rowan Alexander, Director of Alexander Swart Property, has over the years regularly warned sellers that overpricing can easily lead to far longer sales times and  the seller eventually having to bring his price down to a realistic level.

On the sale which Keyter put through above the 3% discount, this is exactly what happened:  the seller, against Keyter’s advice, insisted on adding 10%  to Keyter’s original valuation – but after six weeks had to reduce it to a more realistic level.

According to Keyter, unrealistic expectations by sellers, both as regards price and the time required to sell,  often ignore very obvious factors detracting from the home’s appeal.  If, for example, a home obviously needs an overhaul, a wide range of repairs or is badly positioned in relation to schools, public transport and retail centres or if the home has a tenant in it at the time of the sale, there will inevitably be fewer willing buyers and they will probably bid lower than what the seller believes is the right price.

Furthermore, if the buyer declines to ‘play ball’ with the agent by restricting the times when he can bring buyers to the property or by not allowing him to place sufficient advertisements or to hold show days and place sign boards on the property boundaries, the sale will almost inevitably be delayed.

“Certain sellers,” says Ketyer, “for whatever reason, do not want their neighbours to know that the house is up for sale.  This can make the agent’s life very difficult indeed. Very often the neighbours have friends who may be potential buyers.”

Quick sales, says Keyter, tend to result from the seller signing up a good agent and then fully trusting and supporting him in all he proposes to do.  This involves giving him a sole mandate in every case.

How does the seller know if he is getting a good agent?

Keyter says that there is no better indicator than past performance.  The seller should make sure that the agent he appoints has a good recent track record –  and this is not as difficult to verify as some think, and this should be backed up by testimonials from satisfied clients.

“Right now,” says Rowan Alexander, “many people are slightly hesitant about both buying and selling and the reasons for this may well include South Africa’s poor economic performance and the uncertainty regarding our political future. These factors, along with the resultant slowdown in salary increases, have played their part in eroding confidence.  However the property market remains buoyant and a good agent will work hard to counter these negative factors in potential clients’ minds.  If he is successful in doing so he will almost invariably, in my experience, be doing the client a favour by securing for him a sound investment and improving his lifestyle – as the testimonials of all the top agents will reveal time and time again.”