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Property Wheel: Lew Geffen’s Essential Selling Guide for Home Owners

In today’s fiercely competitive real estate market with myriad perpetually evolving marketing and advertising mediums, it’s no longer enough to simply stick a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn.

In fact, the way in which your home is marketed can deeply impact the final sale price realised as well as the time it spends on the market.

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says: The goal is to reach the greatest number of potential buyers possible by gaining maximum exposure. In doing so, you increase the likelihood of fielding multiple offers, thereby achieving the best possible price”.

But what are the roles and responsibilities involved to achieve a speedy sale at a good price? What should home owners do and what should they know to ask before committing to a particular sales channel?

Geffen says a home owner’s first decision is whether to go it alone or use a realtor.

“With the proliferation of online platforms, apps and the reach that individuals have across the globe with the internet nowadays it is tempting to want to sell homes privately and avoid paying for the services of a professional estate agent”.

“Theoretically you should be able to create an advertisement for your home in a property publication or on a website then simply sit back and wait for the buyers to roll in”.

“In reality, though, that doesn’t work for myriad reasons, not least of which is that online, at least, weighted post systems generally make it difficult for someone with a single listing to be seen among the clutter because agencies with bulk listings are likely to get SEO ranking preference”.

“So in an ideal world even if you knew all the legal hoops to jump through to conclude a sale that wouldn’t result in litigation down the line and you had the time to do everything a professional realtor does, should you try to market your property yourself? The answer probably lies in the famous Abraham Lincoln quote: ‘He who represents himself has a fool for a client’.”

Geffen says step two in the process is to research similar properties for sale in your area to get an idea of where your local market pricing is pegged, then request valuations from three reputable real estate companies with extensive experience of your district.

Geffen says essential questions sellers should ask about marketing before they select an agent include:

· The production of a price breakdown of property sales in the area for the past two years. Reputable realtors will have no problem providing this information for sellers to assess the market because their property valuations will be realistic;
· Whether a professional photographer will be engaged to showcase the property in the most attractive manner so that it will stand out in advertising material (such as the Camps Bay house featured above);
· The specific channels that will the utilised to market and advertise the property;
· The marketing reach of the real estate company, and for properties that fall in the higher price bands, whether the company has international marketing channels and clients;
· The size and reach of the company’s potential buyer database;
· Whether a virtual tour will be part of the advertising material created by the realtor; and
· Whether the property will be put on show and how this will be advertised.

“Sellers need to look at the overall package that prospective realtors will offer and how much time and energy they’re prepared to put into the sale, as well as their experience, professionalism and the support structures and partnerships that their companies have in place with lending institutions and legal services to ensure a swift and seamless sale, rather than just the commission rate”.

“Time and time again sellers go back to the agents through whom their purchased their homes originally because while they may not be the cheapest, they have proven their mettle and gained their clients’ trust.”

Geffen says sellers also have some work to do before they start thinking about putting up the “For Sale” sign.

“The first thing is to look at your property with a critical eye – the way an outsider would – and if necessary make some cosmetic changes. If gutters are sagging, get them fixed, and if the paint is looking weather-worn, invest a little bit of money in getting that done too. A newly painted house looks fresh, even if the property is older.”

Geffen says other things sellers can do to make their homes more appealing include:

· Decluttering the house, including the kitchen counter spaces. Every family accumulates clutter over time and this might put off some buyers;
· Fixing any leaking taps, broken tiles, holes in walls or other small DIY jobs that have been neglected inside the home;
· Tidying the garden and if necessary, investing in a few attractive and colourful plants – especially around the entrance;
· Keeping the home fresh-smelling, clean and tidy when buyers come to view;
· Ensuring the bathrooms are sparkling clean with fluffy fresh towels attractive storage space;
· Covering up worn furniture with attractive throws; and
· Removing pet beds that might cause an odour.

Geffen concludes that marketing a property most effectively is a joint effort between seller and realtor.

“Both parties have to do their bit if a property is to sell quickly and at the right price”.

“Agents must put their all into marketing the property effectively through their databases and advertising channels to ensure a speedy sale”.

“Sellers, in turn, have to make their homes as appealing as possible and agree to a reasonable viewing schedule to allow agents to take prospective buyers through properties”.

“Sellers also need to know what to ask to ensure they choose the right realtor for the job. Ultimately the more they know, the better the chances are of their homes selling quickly and at a fair market price.”

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