You’ve made your decision, and you’ve bought your retirement home. Now what? Sell privately, or go through an agent? You are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of packing, worried in case you’ve decided on the wrong place, unsure of how to go about selling your home. Decisions… and more decisions!
Remember, property prices are seldom stable: they fluctuate. At the moment they are flat. Do NOT rely on neighbours or friends to ‘help’ in valuing your home and securing a buyer as they may have ulterior motives.
Your first, and all-important step is to take a deep breath, sit down with a cup of tea, and decide whether you are going to sell privately or use the services of an estate agent. NB: Do not put your home on the market without securing your next property.
The property market fluctuates from time to time, so it is advisable to be really sure of the market value of your property NOW, not what it was, or what you think it should be.
The option of selling your property privately, without the services of an estate agent, may seem a good idea. After all, think of the commission you’ll save!
But remember though that without an agent vetting the buyer, you are inviting total strangers into your home and could be putting yourself at great risk. However, if you do go ahead and sell privately it is strongly advisable to take the following precautions:
* Never reveal to strangers that you live alone;
* Never make appointments for people you don’t know to view your property when you are alone – ask a relative or friendly neighbour to be present;
* Don’t not reveal any details about your security measures.
Using an Estate Agent
If you decide to use an estate agent choose one carefully. Ask friends for recommendations then ‘interview’ at least three estate agencies that operate in your area, which will provide you with three different valuations of your property. The middle valuation is usually the one to go with. It is important to trust the agent or agents you select. The estate agent with the most ‘SOLD’ boards in your area is the person you want to deal with, and should preferably be a member of the Institute of Estate Agents. Avoid being pushed into hasty decisions on matters such as ‘sole agency’, and negotiate their commission upfront.
Your agent is going to play a crucial role in the sale of your property and must always have your best interests at heart.
A Realistic Approach
The buyer’s first impressions of your home are very important. You are inviting them into your home and expecting them to spend a lot of money, so make sure that they want to see more of your property from the moment they set eyes on it. Try to view your home through the buyer’s eyes. After living in a house for a long time it is easy to overlook any slight defects that you are used to living with and probably don’t even notice anymore. For example, a crack in the wall, broken fence post, faded roof or sagging gutter may be minor problems, but will nevertheless make their first impressions negative.
Small, inexpensive repairs may make a big difference. Ask a trusted and honest friend for their input, for they will see the flaws you don’t. If you want to sell the property within a reasonable period of time it is crucial that you do NOT overprice your property. Do your homework and see which properties have been sold in your area and what they were priced at. Visit show houses in the area, critically evaluate their prices and what they are offering (how much a home has to offer?) and compare it to your property.
Remember that your house has to be seen to be sold. Be available to show your home. A property often looks better at night if the interior is well lit and there are lights in the garden.
Make sure that you have complete trust in your estate agent. For example, it is up to him or her not to waste your time with people who are ‘just looking’.
Smart Seller Strategies
Following these principles will help you to save time and money, minimise stress, and make it easier for you to get the right price for your property.
Neat and tidy is the rule of the day. Start packing non-essential items early, this may mean sentimental articles such as grandchildren’s paintings, a vast display of family photographs, odd bits of china etc.
Specify exactly which items will be included in the sale, for example T.V. aerials, air conditioners, pool equipment and so on. In addition let your agent know if there are any items you would like to sell.
Lock up dogs when the client arrives. Not everyone loves animals and a yapping pet can be distracting and downright annoying.
Be aware of, and eliminate, any unpleasant odour. This includes drains, compost heaps and pets. Smelly carpets that reek of cats or dogs or an unpleasant smell will have prospective clients heading for the door, rather than staying to see more.
To give your home added appeal, you can’t go wrong with the inviting aroma of freshly baked bread or brewed coffee.
Exterior paintwork should be in perfect condition. If necessary, consider the added value of a touch up coat, and repair any cracks in the plaster or paint.
Trim hedges, lawns and shrubbery. In season, try and have the flowers in the garden in bloom. Have fences, driveways and pathways repaired if necessary, and sweep up and clear leaves.
See that it is tidy and clean. A garage sale is a good way of disposing of unwanted items, or you could donate them to a deserving cause.
If you have a pool ensure that the water is sparkling clean and clear and the surface free of leaves.
Even the humblest home will sell if it’s spotlessly clean. Enlist the help of your domestic helper, or hire a cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom, including the tops of doors, cupboards, curtain rails, skirting boards, surfaces, as well as light fittings, windows, stoves and behind appliances such as fridge, washing machine and dishwasher. Keep rooms sunny and bright. Open curtains, roll up blinds, turn on the lights and leave lamps on in dark corners… yes, even during the day! Place bowls of fresh flowers where you can, as they will both brighten up
the home and help to make it smell fresh and fragrant. Windows and mirrors should be shining and clean. Wash curtains and steam-clean carpets and upholstery. Check any blinds and, if necessary, have them repaired and cleaned.
Attend to anything around the home in need of fixing or repairing, such as dripping taps, loose doorknobs and handles, stuck drawers, warped cabinet doors and squeaking doors.
Bathrooms and Kitchen
These are probably the two most important areas of the house. as they not only have a major impact on a potential buyer, but can actually make the sale. With these points in mind, pay special attention to them. Use airfresheners, keep kitchen tops clear, and clear surfaces by putting away as many items as you can, like toasters, electric can openers, bread bins etc. Have a pretty set of towels with a matching bath mat ready to put in place in the bathroom before clients arrive. Ask a friend or family member to give you an honest opinion of their overall impression of your home and whether they have any suggestions. It may be difficult for you to make an objective assessment as you have probably grown accustomed to the way things are.
A New Beginning
Your first step after selling your home is to start filing the following documents in a new file:
1. Deed of Sale/Offer to Purchase Guard this document carefully, but keep it handy for easy reference. Your deed of sale will stipulate the following:
* Your name and the buyer’s name.
* The selling price.
* If subject to the granting of a bond the deed of sale must state the amount of the bond and the time allowed to obtain it .
* Any other suspensive conditions must be in writing. For example, subject to the successful conclusion of the sale of the buyer’s property.
* The name of the conveyancer: in KwaZulu-Natal they are generally appointed by the seller.
2. Borer free certificate.
3. Electrical compliance certificate.
4. Both the seller and the buyer need the following documents (where applicable):-
* Antenuptial contract;
* Identity documents;
* Marriage certificate;
* Final divorce papers;
* Death certificate if either partner is deceased;
* If being purchased by a company, company registration documents with the required resolutions, or if by a trust, trust deed with the required resolutions;
* The Title Deeds of the property.
As soon as the conveyancer has received all the necessary documentation he can attend to the actual transfer of the property. He will ensure that all the suspensive conditions have been fulfilled and then deal with the transfer of the property and registration in the Deeds Office. This may be a long and complicated process, so the buyer and seller should do whatever they can do to expedite matters.
* Both buyer and seller must sign all documents when required to do so by the conveyancer.
* The conveyancer will apply for rates/levy and water clearance certificates.
* The conveyancer receives the Title Deed from the seller or his bank and will now draw up the transfer documents and arrange for their signature. When the documents have been signed by the purchaser and seller and the purchaser has paid the costs and made provisions for the payment of the purchase price, the conveyancer can proceed with the registration of property.
* All the documents will be sent to the Deeds Office – this is a Government registry of all fixed property and rights in fixed property. The examiners in the Deeds Office look carefully through the documents to ensure that they comply with all relevant
legislation and regulations. As soon as they are satisfied, they inform the conveyancer that the transaction is ready for registration, and the property is registered in the purchaser’s name in the presence of the conveyancer and Registrar of Deeds.
The purchaser is now the lawful owner of the property, and the title deed is sent to the bond holder if a bond has been registered. If there are no delays the entire process generally takes between eight and 10 weeks.
In Order to avoid delays ensure that:
* Both you and the buyer have all the necessary documentation.
* You consult a conveyancer that has been recommended to you as being quick and efficient.
* The conveyancer has your telephone/cell numbers and those of the buyer.
* Sign documents immediately when asked to do so.
* Rates, levies, electricity and water accounts are fully paid up.
* Should you grow frustrated with delays, just remind yourself that the South African land registration system is regarded as one of the best in the world.
* Selling your home can be a somewhat rocky road, but hopefully the information in this book will help you to avoid any obstacles along the way, and ensure that your journey is as stress-free and successful as possible.
Time to Move
Moving from one home to another can be a traumatic experience no matter your age, and uprooting your life is even more difficult later on in life. In fact, it has been said that moving can be compared to a death or a divorce. Knowing this, it is important to try to make the move as easy as possible for yourself. The secret is planning: make sure that you have planned every aspect and you’ll be surprised how much easier the process is.
The Three ‘P’S’
The letter ‘P’ is the key to success. You’ll find it in Planning, Preparation and Patience. Before you set out on your journey, take a deep breath, set some time aside and compile a checklist. These are the ‘must-do’s’ you need to include:
1. Change of Address
Complete the checklist that you will find at the end of this section.
2. Book the Removers
Choose carefully and base your choice on recommendations from friends and relatives. Obtain quotes from three companies at least six weeks before you move.
Remember, mid-month rates are generally lower than they are at monthend.
Advise your insurance company of your move so that you are covered intransit and at your new home.
If you are able to do some of your own packing, stock up with some clean, strong containers which you can collect from your local supermarket, friends and relatives. Remember to number the containers and keep a list of the contents with the number of the container at the top of the list. Don’t indicate the contents on the outside of the boxes and don’t make them too heavy (maximum 30kgs).
Caution: Don’t pack jewellery, documents or other valuables: take them with you.
5. Household utilities
Transfer your electricity, water and telephone accounts on the date that suits you. If you are moving from one neighbourhood to another in the same municipal area this can probably be done over the phone. Remember that there may be extra deposits to pay. Arrange to have meters checked on moving day.
If you are moving to a garden complex, the area for your pet needs to be adequately fenced. On moving day have pet food, clean water and a quiet spot ready in your new home Dogs and cats have a strong association with the smells of the furniture and carpets that they know. If you introduce them to their new home with ‘their’ furniture and carpets already in place they’ll soon settle down.
7. Setting up your new home
Arrange for keys and remote controls for your new home. Prior to moving, check on curtain tracks, hooks, globes, plugs, connections for the washing machine and dishwasher and so on. If any changes or repairs are needed, arrange for your plumber or electrician to see to them. You will need a basic tool kit containing items such as screwdrivers, pliers, hammer, picture hooks, insulation tape and plugs.
8. First Aid Kit
On moving day have a first aid kit handy stocked with basics like analgesics, adhesive plasters, cotton wool and antiseptic. Finally, don’t forget your own essential ‘comfort station’: a box or basket packed with a kettle, tea or coffee, sugar, milk and your favourite biscuits, mugs and teaspoons. You may also want to include your favourite tipple! And don’t forget a hand towel, soap and toilet paper.
9. TV & DSTV aerials
If these are not inside your new home, arrange for them to be installed.
10. Your Old Home
If you’re currently renting a property, give notice (this is generally one calendar month but will be subject to the rental agreement). Clearly label all keys. Leave all remote controls and house and cupboard keys in a secure place. A nice gesture is to leave a card for your buyers welcoming them to their new home. Make sure that they have your new address and phone number. Contact them a few days after they have moved in to ensure that they know how everything works and where they can find everything.