Sold before you know it

If your job or life circumstances give you no choice but to sell your home in the current market, and you really need to sell soon, you are going to have to go 'above and beyond' to find a buyer.

So says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, who advises that, to start with, you will need to think and act like a salesperson and separate your emotional attachment to your home from your financial interest in your family's largest asset.

"Selling a home is business and you will need to approach the sale in a businesslike manner starting by hiring the best, most assertive estate agent you can find to help you.

You should interview agents rigorously

"When the market was hot and homes were selling before they even reached the market, you didn't need to worry about getting the best agent — just the cheapest. But now you really need a top salesperson, so you should interview agents rigorously and insist that they present you with proof of their recent successes and a well-conceived marketing plan that goes way beyond the usual internet listing, one or two show days and a tiny weekly advert.

"On the other hand, you may want to consider offering the agent a bonus if the home is sold within 30 days or at your asking price."

You will also need to think beyond the usual fix and clean advice for successful show days, he says. "Of course you should make sure that your home is in good repair and looks fresh, clean and uncluttered. But to get potential buyers rolling in you will need to work with your agent on some less-traditional promotion.

"What about getting your property featured as 'home of the week' in your local newspaper, for example? Or advertising it in your corporate newsletter, church bulletin or school circular? You could also contact any companies nearby that might have transferring employees looking for a new home. And get someone to hand out flyers with details of the property and the show day."

You have to price right

Then of course you have to price right. "And here the most important thing is not to fight the market," says Botha. "The quick buyers are looking for bargains, so you must set your price below comparable properties in the same area. Get your agent to run the stats and set a realistic, saleable price on day one. Don't let the property hang around on the market as you gradually lower the price. Forget what you think the house should be worth or what it was worth three years ago."

And finally, he says, you should be prepared to accept any reasonable offer from a qualified buyer. "If your objective is to sell fast, you don't want to lose a deal by digging in your heels over a few Rand. Remember that your home, as wonderful as you think it is, is worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for it."

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