First things first
Before anything else, once you have made the decision to sell your home, consider appointing an estate agent. While it is possible to sell a property privately, an estate agent can offer invaluable input and provide guidance based on experience and professional expertise that can go a long way in ensuring a smooth sale process and avoiding any unwanted and costly hiccups.
Do some research, ask for recommendations and meet with local estate agents who have knowledge about your specific area in order to find one who meets your requirements and who you will be able to work with well.
Property assessment and maintenance
Presenting your property at its best and putting it on the market at an appropriate price are crucial in order to achieve a successful sale and will require a careful assessment of the property. A competent estate agent will be able to assist in evaluating the property and will provide an indication as to the condition and realistic market value (i.e. the amount a willing and able buyer will mostly likely pay for the property).
This valuation will also highlight any defects that may need to be attended to by the seller prior to moving ahead with the sale. For example, if there are any maintenance issues that need attention, these can be dealt with, avoiding any delays in the sale or these defects negatively impacting the sale price.
Marketing the property
A strategic marketing plan should be put in place to ensure your property is visible to prospective buyers. This may include open house / show days as well as media advertising (e.g. listings on estate agent websites, property websites and newspapers). As with the property assessment and valuation, an estate agent will take care of all marketing activities as set out in the mandate (the contract signed by estate agent and seller that sets out the terms of the agreement such as commission payable upon the successful sale of the property).
High quality images should also be taken of the property as these will be included in the property adverts and will be the first interaction a prospective buyer will have with a home for sale. Therefore, they should catch someone’s attention by showing off the property at its best. As part of this, and to make the most of show days, it’s also important to present the house well which means keeping things tidy, clean and uncluttered.
The Offer to Purchase
The estate agent will further assist the seller in setting up an Offer to Purchase (OTP) to be completed and signed by interested buyers. Once an offer is received from a buyer, the estate agent will present this to the seller for consideration – the seller may then accept or reject the offer, or alternatively provide a counter offer for the interested buyer’s consideration.
The content of the OTP must be carefully considered, and an estate agent can be a huge help in explaining all the detail necessary for the transaction to go through smoothly. This will include, for example, the date of occupation, rates payable in order to obtain clearances, or any maintenance or repairs to be done by the seller prior to transfer.
Once the OTP is signed by the seller, this constitutes a valid and binding agreement of sale. This agreement will then form the basis of, and regulate the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.
The OTP will also indicate which transferring attorneys / conveyancers will be responsible for dealing with the transfer of ownership and the full conveyancing process.
It is the common law right of the seller to nominate the conveyancers that must attend to the transfer. However, many individuals do not have a specific conveyancing attorney they would like to elect, and in such a situation, the estate agent will be able to provide the seller with names of well known conveyancers specialising in this field of law.
In some situations, a purchaser may also request a specific conveyancer, and it will then be up to the seller to decide whether to agree to appointing this attorney or electing another.
A bond attorney will also be appointed in cases where the purchase price is to be paid from a home loan. This attorney will be appointed by the relevant financial institution providing the necessary finance.
Transferring ownership and possession
Once the transfer process is completed and all documents have been lodged and examined in the Deeds Office, registration of transfer can be effected into the name of the purchaser. This is done by the Registrar of Deeds signing and affixing his / her official seal on the deed of transfer.
At this point, the purchaser becomes the registered owner of the property and the seller will receive the proceeds of the sale.
However, possession or occupation of the property may not coincide with the registration of the transfer. Many OTPs will stipulate a specific date on which occupation will be transferred to the buyer and should this not coincide with registration, occupational rent (as set out in the agreement of sale) will be due. For example, if the buyer takes occupation before registration goes through, the buyer will pay the seller the monthly agreed occupational rent, pro rata.
For more details, view the Snymans step-by-step guide to Selling your Property.
Written by Wessel de Kock