Going into the property market alone can create serious problems for both buyers and sellers in South Africa, but there are some ways to minimise the risk.
Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, said that he has some concerns for those who go into the market without a real estate agent.
The first concern is security, especially the security of the investment.
Property is often the largest investment that South Africans make in their lifetimes, with sellers hoping that they get the full value of their property, buyers hoping that they are paying market-related prices, and landlords hoping that their tenants have been properly vetted.
Secondly, viewing a property without an agent can be risky. Besides physical safety, there are also plenty of property scams in the country.
Experienced agents will be able to minimise the risk by doing the following:
- Meeting clients in public places for initial consultations
- Accompanying clients with property viewings
- Utilising technology such as video conferencing and virtual tours
- Having a clear safety protocol in place for managing viewing days
- Verifying the identity of all sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants
- Checking for any defects or liens on properties
- Doing entry and exit inspections
- Ensuring that all contracts are legally binding
- Providing guidance on how to avoid common property scams
Real estate agents also have large networks, including lawyers, which can help protect their clients from fraud.
Other benefits of a real estate agent include the following:
- Local expertise and market knowledge: Real estate agents have a deep understanding of the local property market, including pricing trends, neighbourhoods, and investment opportunities. This expertise can help clients to find the right property for their needs and budget.
- Time and stress savings: Buying, selling, or renting a property can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Real estate agents can streamline the process by handling all aspects of the transaction, from scheduling viewings to negotiating contracts or leases.
- Professional advice: Experienced property professionals can provide their clients with professional advice on all aspects of the property process, from financing to legal matters. This advice can help clients to make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
- Tenant screening and selection: Managing agents have experience in screening and selecting tenants. They can help to ensure that landlords are renting to responsible and financially stable tenants.
- Rent collection and management: Letting agencies can collect rent from tenants and deposit it into landlords’ bank accounts. They can also manage rent increases and other financial aspects of the tenancy.
- Maintenance and repairs: This can be a major headache for landlords – managing agents have access to pre-approved service providers and take on all the hassle for you.
- Dispute resolution: Managing agents can help landlords resolve disputes with tenants, which can help to avoid costly legal action.
- Help with home staging and marketing: Your agent can help you stage your homes attractively and market them effectively. This can help to sell properties faster and for a higher price/achieve higher rentals.
- Support after the sale: Real estate agents can provide their clients with support after the sale, such as helping them to find a removal company or to connect with local businesses.
- Assistance with negotiations: Real estate agents can help clients negotiate the best possible price for their property. They can also help to resolve any disputes that may arise during the transaction.
Using a real estate agent in South Africa offers several benefits, including protection from physical safety risks and property scams, local expertise and market knowledge, time and stress savings, and professional advice.
Going the DIY Route
Despite being the CEO of a real estate company, Stevens also provided a host of tips for South Africans going at it alone.
- Do your research: Learn as much as you can about the property process. This includes understanding pricing trends, legal requirements, and how to avoid fraud and scams.
- Get professional advice: Consider hiring a lawyer or conveyancer to help you with the legal aspects of the transaction.
- Be prepared to negotiate: You will need to be prepared to negotiate the price of the property and the terms of the contract.
- Be patient: It may take some time to find the right property or tenant or to sell your property for the best possible price.