South Africa, says Anton du Plessis, CEO of the Cape Town estate agency, Vineyard Estates, is the traditional home of the entrepreneur and self made man.  The diamond and gold mines fostered a culture in which people accepted that they could take control of their own futures –and become wealthy.

“Rudyard Kipling, who was Rhodes’ friend and admirer, said that South Africa inculcates a go-getting independence of spirit –and this is as true today as it was 116 years ago.”

In house selling, does this mean that the owner should seriously consider selling for himself?

Probably not, says du Plessis.

“I usually advise against going the DIY sales route, not because I am an agent myself but because it has over the years time and again proved less than satisfactory.”

The advantage of selling for yourself, says du Plessis, is that the seller will save the 5 to 6% commission which would normally be paid to the agency -and this may enable him either to make more profit or to price the house more competitively.

However, the seller will have to pay for his own advertising and this can easily amount to many thousands of rands over a three to six month selling period.

Furthermore, the buyer, knowing that the seller is operating alone, will often use this fact to negotiate the price downwards.

“Bargaining now starts from the sales price less 5% - it does not include the 5%.”

Then, too, says du Plessis, the DIY seller has to be available at times that suit the buyer.  This can be problematic if the seller is still working full or part time - as most are.

People who are not in sales full time, he adds, often lack the ability to sell well.

“They push when they should ease up.  They carry on selling when they should give the buyer space.  They lack the sensitivity of a good agent.  Alternatively, they try to play it too cool and the buyer walks away because no one encouraged him at the right time.”

Another difficulty facing the DIY seller, says du Plessis, is that he probably has no contract document experience. 

This can be countered by getting the buyer to sit with an attorney when he makes his offer. However, buyers sometimes feel threatened or overcautious when faced with a lawyer who is clearly acting in the seller’s interest alone. The best time to take an offer from someone is when the 'iron is hot.' The private seller who has first to make an appointment with his lawyer may find that the buyer cools off in the waiting period and does not follow through with his offer. 

“It also has to be accepted that the so-called “standard” sales forms purchasable at stationers can be inadequate because there is no such thing as a standard sales document –every sale needs its special sales clauses and addenda.

“There have been times when I have been very interested in a particular property, and have contacted the seller directly.  However, because no one was encouraging me and assisting me to make an offer, I cooled off despite having intended to buy.”

Du Plessis concluded, “I have heard of a few cases where a go-it-alone seller has managed well – but I myself have never yet come across a good sale conducted under these conditions.  My view is that successful agents are successful because they add value – and it is unwise not to make use of this ability, especially if your agent is tried and tested and has a track record.”

For further information contact Anton du Plessis on 021 674 4444 or email

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