How Real Estate Agents Can Help You

Homeloan Junction is an established home loan origination company that has been in the property market since 2003. Our relationships are of the utmost significance to us and we focus on carefully nurturing them. Our invitation to join us extends to customers, banks and financial institutions, conveyancers and estate agents, all of whom we work closely with to ensure you receive outstanding service with long-term benefits.

Why Join Homeloan Junction?

You will begin your one-stop-business-journey to purchasing a new property when you join Homeloan Junction. Our experienced consultants keep themselves informed of the latest trends and developments in the property market which enables us to advise you according on your specific needs.

Our business connections allow us to submit your loan application to 9 different banks. Our knowledge of their products will make certain that you receive the best deal possible under our guidance. We will assist with all the paper work and other details involved, saving you time, effort and the frustration of dealing with a number of different banks.

Perhaps you have not yet set your heart on a property but have been exploring the size of the bond you would qualify for to enable you to look to buy in the correct price bracket. Our online calculators will enable you to estimate the affordability, savings, bond and transfer fees of your future homeloan. We have much information to help you in making this significant decision. Please take time to browse our website.

Working With An Estate Agent

We work closely with estate agents and value their knowledge, experience and assistance in finding you, the home of your dreams. Here are 5 tips to getting the most from your Estate Agent:

Tip #1 Do You Come First?

Working with the right estate agent is important as buying a home is a sensitive and emotional experience. You need to feel comfortable with the agent and confident that they understand what your needs are. You will soon pick up if the agent you are working with identifies with your requirements and the type of home you wish to live in. If you are repeatedly shown unsuitable property, they don’t understand you. It usually pays to stick with one agent that you work well with until you find your purchase.

Tip #2 Do They Have A Good Track Record?

Make sure that you chose a reputable real estate company, and an agent, with track records that they are proud of. Don’t be afraid to ask about accreditation and test their knowledge of the area and prices by asking about property recently sold. They are normally linked to multi-listing which gives them a broad base from which to choose suitable homes to show you. They might even email you a number of properties to look at and receive your feedback on to better gauge your preferences and taste.

Tip #3 How Good Is Their Local Knowledge?

There are advantages to working with someone who specialises in an area and knows it well. They will have knowledge on the public transport, schools, shops and sporting facilities that most families will no doubt need. A worthy agent will be on good terms with other agents and realise the benefit this holds to those in the industry. They will also know about all the homes for sale, those about to be sold and what other agencies have on their books. In a case such as this, they will share the sale and happy to do so if the client finds their home.

Tip #4 Are They On Your Side?

Agents work on commission and in most cases represent the seller, which is understandable as they pay the estate agent’s fee. Be sure that the agent you chose to work with will also act for you by putting forward your questions, negotiating with the seller and disclosing any relevant information. An estate agent is required to act on your instruction but sometimes will impart alternative suggestions for you to consider. Real estate agencies have recourse to legal advice and they will advise you when they feel that you need a lawyer should things not run smoothly.

Tip #5 Do They Have Helpful Connections?

A good estate agent will be knowledgeable about municipal requirements if you wish to make alterations or carry our renovations. They will also know of qualified engineers, builders, contractors and workmen to refer you to which would be helpful if you are new to the area.

A Sweet Ending

Finding an estate agent who will take an interest in you and put in every effort to see a happy client at this stressful time in their lives is really the cherry on top when it comes to house hunting. To make sure that you don’t end up in a gingerbread house, let Homeloan Junction help you secure the best home loan and terms available. We have a 70% approval rate on all home loans we put forward.

Homeloan Junction’s head office is situated in Gauteng but we have branches and consultants in 7 provinces and in cities throughout the country. You could even join Homeloan Junction and enjoy a career as an independent homeloan originator under our training, guidance, using our products and network.

How to increase your homes value without over-capitalising

Houses don’t come cheap.

We buy them, pay non-tax deductible interest [in the USA, residential mortgage interest is tax deductible; all part of the American dream around property ownership], maintain them and then add accessories, as I like to call them. This is the reason why Robert Kyosaki, of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame, says houses are a liability and not an asset. Contrary to accounting, he calls any property that doesn’t give you an income, a liability, not an asset. In another section of his book, he talks about buying a Porsche – he buys a factory and then allows the net rental return buy the Porsche. Very good advice indeed!

Maintenance, first. You may be one of those people who don’t maintain your house to “save money”. Be careful, selling the house that “needs some tlc” is very expensive. Maintenance retains the value of your house in a suburb because first impressions count and because people buying your house are probably buying the best they can afford and they don’t necessarily have the money to fix a gutter or repaint just after they move in. The only way to do that is to cut the price and use the saving to fix your house. Take it from me, a lack of maintenance costs you dearly in the end. And by the way, Mow the Lawn Guys…..

But let’s talk about accessories. For example, paving, lean-to’s for a caravan, a pool, a jacuzzi, a replacement of a thatch roof with Harveytiles etc. How should we go about improving our home so as to add value?

A couple of things to consider generally:

  • Don’t over-capitalise. In an area the average price of a house may be R1m. Your 500m2 extension with a Jacuzzi on the upstairs bathroom may sound like a good idea and even be affordable BUT, you won’t get your money back when you sell, let alone, make a return on investment.
  • Think about the neighbours. Your Jacuzzi in the middle of the front lawn may be cool for you but a buyer would look at it and wonder about privacy. Remember to accessorise for the general person and not your own boisterous nature. By the way, those walls you want to paint black and those tiles you want to put in in black and white checks, just think about the buyer who will one day walk through your house – will the black be appealing to them? Will the tiles be outdated?
  • Value for money. An interesting topic really because it is your family home after all. [The same debate often applies to the return on investment for a holiday home at the coast; years of family memories but, often, at a cost.] Why not just do what you want and worry about the return on investment later? Of a truth, it’s your call – all we’re saying today is consider the alternatives and the potential return on investment.

Quality. I have friends who have tried to renovate at the least cost. Three builders later and several compromises along the way, they are not happy. Hopefully, a future buyer will be but suddenly, the jury is out and time will tell.

So let’s talk about how to accessorise sensibly.

Firstly, do your homework. There is not an estate agent in your suburb who would not pop in and give you some thoughts on what you’re proposing to do and their considered impact on the value of your home. They see 3-5 homes a day in the area and know exactly what sells and doesn’t; so why not ask them? Then, check out that pool company or the paver or the building contractor. Goedkoop kan duurkoop wees [Cheap can be expensive]. If you don’t have the money now, save more but get what you want and what adds value to your home. There are many places where you can get references – previous customers [ask for one where there was a complaint and find out how it was solved], the internet, Hello Peter! and the like. Drive around your suburb and ask people using a contractor if they would recommend. In short again, do your homework.

Secondly, it’s the little “extra” in extraordinary that makes it that. For instance, the surround of your pool should be coping tiles or a lovely wooden deck. The location of your pool should flow from a room with a view. Plunging in the pool on a hot summer’s evening is cool, but creating a WOW! effect for a buyer can just take a little more thought. Imagine if you could have all those memories and get a better price for your house – often it’s possible.  On the other hand, a Koi pond on the one end with a fountain could be really nice but two things need to be considered – fountains require maintenance and Koi are not everyone’s cup of tea. Why do them if you could lose the Koi pond and place your pool inlet a little higher to have a bubbler sound effect?

Thirdly, consider affordability. Pools are expensive to borrow on a bond. And they need care and maintenance every week thereafter. Rather save cash and do it.

Finally, choose your accessory. Pools take more people than a jacuzzi and frankly, you can cosy up on the champagne seat if you want to! Tiling a thatch roof can save thousands of Rands in maintenance and insurance. Painting your house cool, clean colours makes a great first impression as does re-doing your garden for effect. We all have budget constraints and so choosing the accessories that we focus on over the years can be beautiful, practical, money-saving and give you a good return on your hard-earned cash.

As with so many of these blogs, the thoughts expressed are my own. Some of them are born of experience and mistakes. All of them are given with care for our readers by Homeloan Junction. If you are thinking of making some improvements to your home, talk to us, we would be happy to help. If you have already taken these points into consideration and want to make some changes, have a look at our Further Loan options.

The role of an Estate Agent in a Property Transaction

In previous blogs we took a look at Conveyancing and some views on the positive association between originators and banks. We have also posited some tips regarding investment properties for those who would like to invest in property.

In this blog, I would like to share some of my experiences with estate agents.

We have all heard horror stories of “my estate agent!”. They are “this and that” and “why couldn’t they…”. To be honest, I have never had that experience in the sale of a number of properties with different estate agents and companies. I have many good friends who are estate agents and serve on a board of directors with outstanding men and women of high skill and integrity.

In short and upfront in this article, if you don’t like your estate agent [personality clashes and misunderstandings do occur] then call the Principal of the estate agency and change the person to someone with whom you would like to work. But, also understand some of things.

An estate agent does not work for you but for the Seller. They receive a mandate, virtually always in writing and sole- or joint-, to sell a particular property for the seller. They are to have the seller’s best interest at heart and present to the seller best offers that come from their marketing efforts. They are not at liberty to alter amounts or clauses without the written approval of the seller. Therefore nothing you say or write, is accepted until presented to the seller for signature approval or counter-offer by the seller. The estate agent is duty bound to achieve the best terms of price and conditions for the seller.

Does all of this mean that the estate agent is never for the buyer? No, not at all; they are professionals quite capable of seeing both sides of a sale. However, do not assume that the estate agent is working for you, the buyer, when presenting the offer. Be careful to be explicit in what you communicate and when conditions are written into a contract, understand the implication for you. Do not hesitate to obtain legal advice if you feel it is that serious that you need professional assistance. Trust is always essential in these relationships so work with someone you feel you can trust and then be wise in your dealings.

With this background, when buying a property

  • Be very clear on what you can afford, what deposit you have and what bond you can apply for. ( have a look at our affordability calculator if you are unsure about this)
  • Be very clear on what your minimum requirements are and, then, what you would like to have. For instance, understand the need for a study versus a family room and which one you would prefer if a house you can afford does not have both. And then, always leave room for debate and changes of mind – buying a home is stressful fun!

Once you have these matters clearly in your mind, approach a reputable estate agent in the area you wish to buy and brief him or her on your affordability and requirements.

You can see from this that your clarity, what I would call your Buyer’s mandate to the estate agent, is very important. You are not buying a couch here, this is probably your biggest investment apart from your pension, that you will ever make. On the other hand, you cannot expect a professional estate agent to bumble around with you on what you can afford or what you want.

An estate agent is trained and qualified theoretically and practically to:

  • Contract with seller who wish to sell their home. They receive a mandate from these sellers for many things, obviously, including the desired sale price. They probably also understand the negotiability of a price by the seller.
  • Understand the values of properties in an area and the comparisons between the prices of different houses. They may, for instance, advise a seller to paint and repair their house in order to assure a requested sale price knowing that houses in the area that have fetched a price have done so on the back of being clean and well-maintained.
  • Undertake a market analysis for the seller on which a future buyer can depend. For instance, what are the average selling prices over the last 6 months, what are the lowest and highest prices etc?
  • Administer the sale and purchase of the property for the seller and buyer in their best interests.
  • Negotiate the transaction between the seller and the buyer.

As regards latent defects, remember the estate agent is not supposed to know about them. After all, they would not be “latent” if any reasonable person could see them. What the estate agent must do is ask the seller if they know of any latent defects and, once revealed, must declare these to the buyer. Of course, you as the buyer may request a home inspection report [there is a good chance of these becoming regulated like an electrical compliance certificate] as one of your conditions of purchase. The same goes for roads and infrastructure where your local municipality could help you understand routes and the likelihood of occurring.

There is a role that is often not discussed and that is inter-personal relationships. Estate agents need to be fair and confident but always display sensitivity to the parties. Think of it this way, an elderly couple is selling their family home to retire and a young couple is buying their first home. The seller is reticent, nervous, sad, pondering the future and has brought their children along to advise and help them whilst the buyer is young, energetic, internet-savvy, aspirational, unexperienced and stretching their budget. The estate agent has the wonderful job of bringing these two parties together from mandate to transfer and making the experience of both memorable and enjoyable. Just think of the interpersonal skills that an estate agent needs to reflect in this scenario. And most of them are really good at what they do – I have never had a bad experience.

There are many twists and turns in property transactions. This blog is not a manual,  but rather just a heads-up for us to gain insight into the various role players and the relationships between them. Homeloan Junction hopes it informs you a little more and helps make your experience a good one.