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Pillars of Justice

Why Your Home Isn’t Selling in South Africa: Insights from Gerhard Barnard Inc Attorneys & Conveyancers

Selling a property in South Africa has become increasingly challenging due to elevated inflation, 15-year high repo rates, economic uncertainty, and slow house price growth. However, beyond these macroeconomic factors, certain common mistakes can keep properties on the market longer than necessary.

Cobus Odendaal from Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty highlights several key factors within sellers’ control that can enhance the saleability of a home, even in these tough economic conditions. Here are six common issues:

1. Choosing the Wrong Estate Agent

Selecting the right estate agent is crucial. Odendaal advises sellers to consult at least two agents in their area and avoid choosing based on the highest price or lowest fee promised. A good agent will neither deeply discount their commission nor overvalue the property to win your business.

“In current market conditions, it’s vital to have a diligent agent working consistently to ensure your sale progresses to completion,” says Odendaal.

2. Overpricing

One of the most significant issues hindering home sales is overpricing. Sellers often set their listing price higher than the market can bear in hopes of maximizing profits. This strategy usually backfires, leading to prolonged market times.

Odendaal recommends conducting a comparative market analysis to accurately gauge your home’s value and set a realistic price.

3. Poor Presentation

First impressions matter, and a property's presentation can make or break a sale. Homes lacking curb appeal, cluttered, or poorly maintained often fail to attract buyers. According to the Real Estate Staging Association, professionally staged homes spend 73% less time on the market than unstaged ones.

Even without professional staging, investing time in minor upgrades, decluttering, and improving curb appeal can significantly enhance a home’s marketability and expedite the selling process.

4. Unaddressed Issues

Hidden defects like a leaky roof, outdated plumbing, or structural concerns can deter buyers. Overlooking these issues can sabotage a sale. Odendaal stresses the importance of transparency and disclosure.

“By disclosing known issues, you foster trust with buyers and prevent deals from falling through later in the process. This also saves you from potential legal headaches down the line,” he advises.

5. Inflexible Terms

Flexibility is key in negotiations. Being rigid about the transfer date, contingencies, or other terms can discourage interested buyers. Being open to reasonable offers and accommodating buyer preferences can facilitate a smoother transaction and increase the likelihood of a successful sale. Additionally, flexible viewing times are crucial, as potential buyers might consider other properties if they can't view yours promptly.

6. Poor Quality Photos

Many buyers begin their home search online, making high-quality images essential to stand out. Poor photos can be a significant drawback.

“Presentation starts with your property photos,” Odendaal points out. “If you're marketing with low-quality images, you’re already at a disadvantage.”

Ensure your photos are professional and showcase all areas of the home, both inside and out. If your home has been on the market for some time, consider updating the photos to reflect the current season and attract fresh interest.

By addressing these common issues, sellers can improve their chances of a timely sale, even in South Africa's challenging real estate market. At Gerhard Barnard Inc Attorneys & Conveyancers, we understand the complexities of property transactions and are here to provide expert guidance through every step of the selling process.

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