Why your home isn’t selling in South Africa

 ·19 May 2024

Selling a property in South Africa right now is extremely challenging, but sellers may still be making some mistakes that are keeping their properties on the market for longer.

The real estate market is currently battling elevated inflation, 15-year high repo rates, economic uncertainty and slow house inflation.

Although these macroeconomic factors play a role, Cobus Odendaal from Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty said that there are several common reasons that some properties are not selling.

“Although we have no control over the interest rate and current state of the market, there are several key factors that are within sellers’ control which can impact a home’s saleability and by addressing them, sellers can enhance their chances of selling their home in a timely manner, even in these challenging economic conditions,” said Odendall.

He provided six common problems for South Africa:

1. You don’t have a good estate agent

Odendall said that sellers should approach at least two agents in their area and choose against the agent that promises the highest price or the lowest fee. A good agent won’t massively discount their commission or overvalue it to win business.

“It’s particularly important in current market conditions, where uncertainty has grown, that you have a good agent working day in and day out to ensure your sale progresses right through to completion.”

2. Overpricing

A significant issue hindering home sales is overpricing. Sellers often inflate their listing price beyond the market’s tolerance to increase profits. However, this is usually counterproductive and the main reason for homes languishing on the market.

“Conduct a comparative market analysis to gauge your home’s value accurately and adjust the price accordingly.”

3. Poor Presentation

A home’s first impressions are important, and a property’s presentation can make or break a sale.

Homes with no curb appeal, are cluttered or are poorly maintained often fail to attract buyers.

According to a survey by the Real Estate Staging Association, professionally staged homes spend 73% less time on the market than their unstaged counterparts.

Even if professionals aren’t hired, sellers should take the time to invest in minor upgrades, declutter, and improve the curb appeal of their properties.

“This can significantly improve a home’s marketability and expedite the selling process,” said Odendaal.

4. Unaddressed Issues

Hidden defects, such as a leaky roof, outdated plumbing, or structural concerns, can be a major problem for buyers. Overlooking these problems can ruin a sale.

Even if one cannot address specific issues, Odendall stressed the importance of disclosure.

“Not only will you save yourself potentially costly legal headaches down the line when the new owners discover issues that weren’t disclosed, transparently disclosing known issues will foster trust with buyers and prevent deals from falling through later in the process.”

5. Inflexible Terms

Flexibility is key; stubbornness over the transfer date, contingencies, or negotiation can discourage otherwise interested buyers.

Being open to reasonable offers and accommodating buyer preferences can help with a smoother transaction and increase the likelihood of a successful sale.

Flexibility with viewing times is also crucial, as potential buyers could look at other homes and make an offer before even viewing your home.

6. The photos aren’t good enough

Another problem can be that photos of one’s home online are not good enough.

Most buyers begin their search online and will see plenty of listings, meaning high-quality images are needed to stand out.

“Presentation is key, and this starts with your property photos, so if you’re marketing with a few smartphone snaps instead of professional photographs, then you’re already at a disadvantage,” said Odendaal.

“Make sure they look professional and show all areas of the home, inside and out.”

“If your home has been on the market for some time, it’s a good idea to take a fresh set of images that reflect the current season and entice potential buyers to take another look.”

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