THE QUESTION TO FOUR RECENT RESIDENTIAL BUYERS
What do you wish agents knew about presenting and negotiating an offer?
Kelly Larter | Berea, Durban
My husband and I had got divorced and we were selling our house. It was a pretty tough time, and we wanted to sell our house as quickly as possible and move on with our own lives. And our estate agent knew that, of course. Our first two offers were very low, and neither accepted our counteroffers. When our agent came to present the third offer, which was still low, I could see he was getting a little impatient with us. It felt like he wanted us to accept the offer so he could move on to selling the next house. And I was right… As my ex and I were discussing a reasonable counteroffer, our agent blurted out, “Surely you just want this whole thing done and dusted, after the divorce and all!” I was furious, and I couldn’t help wondering if he had told the potential buyers our sob story and that we were desperate to sell, hence the low offers.
Zodwa Ntuli | Sandton, Johannesburg
When my first apartment was on the market, my agent came to present me with a really low offer. I was insulted, and told him I wouldn’t even counteroffer – I just let the offer expire. The agent agreed, and we waited another two months before the next offer came in. It was very stressful, and the offer I had on another property subject to me selling my apartment fell through. Subsequently, when selling a different property with a different agent, I had a similar experience with a very low offer. This time, though, the agent asked me to entertain the offer and go back with a counteroffer. At first I fobbed her off, thinking it was agent spin. But she asked me, “What have you got to lose by seeing if you can get a low offer up to an acceptable level?” She said she always advised clients to counter a lowball offer, even if the counter is your asking price, because, she said, it shows you’re serious about your price and you expect them to come back with a more serious offer. I countered with R12,000 less than the asking price, and the buyer countered with R20,000 less, and we had a deal!
Ricardo Smit | Milnerton, Cape Town
I wish all agents advised clients not to focus exclusively on price. I lost a property I really wanted because there was a deadlock on the price. The buyer who got the flat offered the same as I did but included in the offer that he could move in immediately and pay occupational rent, and this suited the sellers. I could have done the same but I didn’t know that kind of detail went into offers.
Lesley Engels | Hout Bay, Cape Town
My partner and I had our hearts set on a two-bedroom stone cottage in the Valley, but we knew we couldn’t offer full asking price so we tried to play it cool. We were clear about the maintenance work that needed to be done, and that the garden hadn’t been looked after, so our offer would be below the asking price because we’d taken all this into account – that’s what we told the seller’s agent. However, I heard our agent, who was taking us around the show houses, tell the sellers that we loved it to bits and that we could already picture ourselves soaking in the ball-and-claw bath, and having sundowners on their deck! I think she thought we were in the garden, out of earshot. I was so cross because I felt they would be yanking our heartstrings during the negotiations.
Words: Kate Calnan