In the past year there has been an increase in the number of low-cost internet based real estate
agencies. More recently FNB released a new application that will allow private deals between their
customers and buyers. The face of real estate is changing and this raises the question: is there still a
need for real estate agents? Like so many questions in life, the answer is: it depends……

Private sales are nothing new. If you have a fair understanding of the transfer process and your
property transaction is not too complicated, there is no reason why you cannot sell privately. There
are however two things that must be borne in mind.

In my experience, people seldom list their property at a market-related price. Sentimental value is
often a large part of the property price. People also prefer to ignore where the market is in the
property cycle. You often hear people say: ‘My property was valued at x five years ago. How can it
be worthless now?’. In this case, you need an experienced agent that you can trust to guide you
through the decision making process.

Then there are the problems that may arise during the transfer process. I am currently involved with
a transaction that is very time consuming. At first the seller kept me busy with all his requirements.
When we eventually got a loan for a buyer the valuation of the property proved difficult. With five
tenants it was a mission to get access to all the rooms.

The same problem occurred with the electricity certificate. When applying for the occupation certificate it was discovered that one of the boundary walls was not built on the building line. The wall had to be demolished and rebuilt to get municipal approval. This change was required by the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA). According to this act a property cannot be transferred unless the building plans corresponds with the property. In this case we were lucky that the buyer and seller had the cash to make the changes. If this was not the case, the agent would have had to use all his negotiation skills to save this transaction. The cheap or free real estate alternative may not work for transactions like

There is a place for the private property sale or the cheaper internet-based property transactions. As
a buyer you should just be careful of all the problems that may occur with the sale and transfer
process. Rather negotiate a fair deal with your agent and have the peace of mind that there is
somebody to manage this process for you.

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