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What to know when selling property over the festive season

Don’t take that For Sale sign off your house during the festive season – Barry Davies from Chas Everitt.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Property owners tend to make the mistake of taking a break from the property market during the festive season, believing that people are on holiday and therefore won’t expect much activity. But property experts Chas Everitt argue that this is an opportune time for potential buyers to look for property, because they are on holiday. And therefore property owners should continue to keep their property on the market so that they don’t miss out.

Well, to tell us more, I’m joined on the line by Barry Davies. He is franchising director at Chas Everitt. Thanks very much for joining us, Barry. Tell us – what sort of activity do you tend to see in the property sector in the summer holiday?

BARRY DAVIES: There are a great number of people who think that the activity is non-existent. This is sadly wrong. If I look at online enquiries, to start with, we get a heck of a lot of online enquiries coming through over December, and some of them only translate into sales in January and February. So the activity is out there without a doubt, and even buyers that we tend to see over this time of year are serious buyers.

NOMPU SIZIBA: So for property retailers or homeowners who want to sell their properties – what are some of the issues that they need to be cognisant of, if they think about taking their property off the market because they think oh, it’s the holiday season?

BARRY DAVIES: One of the dangers is that after any momentum that you’ve gained, you are really starting all over again when you go back onto the market in the new year. People tend to forget as well that we’ve got buyers looking at properties four, five, six times. They may have taken a short hiatus before making a decision; but take it off the market – you can’t sell it if it’s not on the market.

NOMPU SIZIBA: The beauty is that I suppose people have more time to do things like looking for a property, usually we are so busy in the year. So they can take time looking for the property that they want.

BARRY DAVIES: That’s something I mentioned just now. Also there is a lot of transfer market at this time of year, people moving. We’re seeing a lot of movement back into Johannesburg at the moment, more for economic reasons. So, taking your house off the market or making it unavailable when there are dead serious buyers out there who are looking very often to make a sale relatively quickly, particularly the transferees.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Tell us about the banks’ risk appetite when it comes to things like 100% property loans. Is that growing, because before there was a lot of risk aversion, and banks would always insist that people put money down? If that is the case – that they are more willing to do that – obviously it will speed up the transaction.

BARRY DAVIES: It’s been wonderful to see how bullish the banks are in the market at the moment, which translates into a positive for buyers. Some quite good rate concessions, plus, as you mentioned, the 100% [loans] and lower deposit competition that’s going on between the banks, all bodes well for buyers and naturally, by extension, sellers. They are fiercely competitive right now.

When you consider 50% of the market at the moment are new homebuyers. I think people also are looking at homebuyers and say, well, a new homebuyer, a first-time homebuyer, the average age of a first-time home buyer is now 34, so that means that buying capability is a lot higher than it used to be. Combine that with good bank rates and competitive banks and you’ve got a good combination.

NOMPU SIZIBA: This could apply to any time in the year, not just the festive season. But what would you advise property owners who are looking to sell – what would you advise them to try and do to make their houses at least appear attractive and more appealing to the eye for those who are coming to view?

BARRY DAVIES: Well, all the traditional things. I think you’ll find everybody is like me – will be spending a lot of their seasonal time doing up the garden and getting the house ready for family and friends coming over. So it’s just keeping the house in I wouldn’t say a show-house condition. You are going to get fewer buyers coming through at this time of year, but just make sure that the house isn’t overly Christmassy, for example a 14-foot Christmas tree in the middle of your lounge. Although you are getting fewer buyers, it’s a good time of year, particularly in Joburg now. Hopefully, with a bit of rain, gardens will be in good condition, and people are sprucing their properties up, getting them tidy this time of the year.

So those are just the normal basics in terms of making it look appealing.

NOMPU SIZIBA: What about the fear, perhaps, among sellers of properties that, “Oh, no, if I put my house on the market now, what if the deal goes through quickly and I haven’t found the next place to go and live?” What about concerns around that?

BARRY DAVIES: It happens less than people think. Again, if somebody is looking at selling their property and buying a property now, they are not going to be looking to move in in the next month or two. It’s just a case that very often this is the time they have to view the property and, obviously, have family available to bring up to view homes at the same time.

NOMPU SIZIBA: So the principle in all of this is that, if you are looking to sell your property and you already have it on the market, don’t take that For Sale sign off your house?

BARRY DAVIES: Please don’t. You could be doing yourself a huge disservice.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Many thanks, Barry, for your time.

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