Sellers have serious competition
With residential stock levels continuing to rise steadily in most parts of the country, sellers need to accept that they’ve got serious competition.

So says Terry Brookes, chairman of one the country’s largest real estate groups, the National Referral Network (NRN).

Commenting on what he called “a noticeable shift in real estate buying patterns” since the market peaked during mid 2004, Brookes said that buyers were no longer queuing five or even ten deep for properties. Instead, buyers now had a choice of properties in most price ranges, he said. This meant that sellers were under pressure to make correct choices, not only in terms of pricing but also when deciding which estate agents they would use to market their homes.

Stressing the importance of correct pricing, Brookes said the right figure would be best arrived at by using a comparative market analysis (CMA) compiled by an agent who had access to deeds office records. Accordingly, he urged sellers not to set their prices according to the highest bidding agent, but rather to base them on comparable homes that had sold recently in their areas.

It was also critical for sellers to select an agent who knew how to get the maximum visibility for the minimum outlay and inconvenience, he said. “Furthermore, sellers need to choose someone who is capable of motivating prospective purchasers to submit offers and who is ultimately able to close deals to the satisfaction of all parties.”

While there was no doubt that agents played a pivotal role in the selling of a property, continued Brookes, sellers needed to accept that they also had certain responsibilities relating to the saleability of their homes. And of these, the most critical apart from pricing, was creating a positive first impression literally from the kerb, through the front gates and garden, right up to the front door.

Once inside, if a seller nurtured any hopes of having a buyer sit down in their lounge to sign an offer to purchase, cleanliness and minimal clutter was the only way to go, said Brookes. “It is not unusual for buyers to submit offers during show houses, but invariably the background is a clean, uncluttered and odour-free home.”

Brookes, who has personally washed up sinks full of dirty dishes and made beds in sellers’ homes prior to show houses, warned that a bad first impression would invariably chase a serious buyer into the arms of the seller down the road. “People invariably buy what they see. They would therefore rather pay a little more for an immaculate home than a place where the garden has been wrecked by dogs, the stove and kitchen cupboards are thick with grease and the paint work needs touching up.”

And finally, he said, serious sellers needed to make access to their property as easy as possible. “Because stock levels in most sectors have risen dramatically in the last year, buyers are no longer desperate. If they can’t get access to a property, it’s not the end of the world anymore because it’s not the only property on their viewing list.”