Thursday, 13 October 2011

East, west, the truth about your home is best

In the light of the new Consumer Protection Act, homeowners who want to sell their properties would be well advised to “come clean” about any and all defects or drawbacks they know about.

“Of course the best course of action is to correct any defect you are aware of before you list your home for sale,” says Hano Jacobs, CEO of the Realty 1 International Property Group, “but this is not always possible.

“Sometimes homeowners don’t have the money to fix whatever is wrong, and in other cases they may not have the time or the inclination. In these instances what they should do is to make full disclosure to their estate agents and mandate them to negotiate a fair price on this basis.” 

This is especially important now that the CPA has come into effect, he says, since the overall intention of this legislation is to protect consumers from any misrepresentation, and to enable them to easily cancel sales where they can show that they have not been told the truth.

“We believe this means that sellers will no longer be able to shelter behind a ‘voetstoots’ (as is) clause in the sales agreement, or the old distinction between patent and latent defects – that is, those faults which are obvious and both the buyer and seller will be assumed to know about, and those that are not obvious and the seller might claim he did not know about.

“In fact, we think that sellers are going to have to go the extra mile now, not to prove that their homes have no faults, but to show that they are not deliberately concealing whatever faults there are and are negotiating transparently and in good faith.”

The best way to tackle this, Jacobs says, is to work with a professional agent who really understands that his or her job is not just about marketing your home and finding prospective buyers, but also about seeing the transaction through to the end, when the property is successfully transferred to a new owner. “Such an agent will take the time to go through your home in detail and properly assess how it compares to others currently on the market or recently sold in your area, and then assist you to set an asking price that is fair for the property in its current condition. He or she should also be able to tell you what repairs or improvements would be essential and/ or most cost effective if you want to attract more prospective buyers and better this price.”

In addition, he notes, many top agents these days are also compiling detailed disclosure reports to be incorporated in sale agreements and signed by buyers as well as sellers, so there can be no dispute later about what was and was not disclosed.