Should you sell your house privately, or should you use an estate agency? This is the 8% question, because that’s the standard rate of commission you will be required to pay the agency if they are successful in selling your property. 

8% can seem like quite a lot of money, especially where the property is selling for several million. A R10 million house sale means that the agency gets R800,000 in commission. That’s a pretty large chunk of change in any language! 

Of course there are agencies who are negotiable on the amount of commission they will charge for selling your property, some go as low as 4%, but even so, that still equates to R400,000 in commission on a R10m property, which is also a heady payday! 

Over the many years that I have been involved in the property industry I have seen several different models used for selling property. The most recent industry disrupter came in the form of Lead Home, who when they launched were charging a flat fee of R29,000 in commission to sell your home, regardless of its value. The premise of their business model was that the same amount of work goes into selling a R1m house as does a R10m house. This is largely true and the Lead Home model was very successful for a period of time (I photographed hundreds of properties for them in an 18 month period between 2018 and 2019), but then they started increasing the flat rate of commission. It increased to R39,000 soon after I started shooting for them and now they no longer charge a flat rate, but have moved closer to the traditional model, albeit at a significantly lower percentage of 2.5% (+VAT). Makes you think, doesn’t it? 

So what are you getting for your money when you employ an estate agent to sell your house and can you do it on your own to save a fair amount of money?

The property selling process is in essence a two pronged affair. You have a “product” that you want to find a buyer for, so you need to inject awareness of that product into a market that is actively looking for the thing that you are selling. This is traditional marketing. 

The other side of the process is what happens after you have piqued the market interest and you start to get interested buyers making contact. This is where you separate good estate agents from bad ones and discover what you are actually paying all that commission for – pre-qualifying leads, arranging viewings, negotiating offers to purchase and dealing with all the legal red tape that comes with selling property. If you are prepared to do all these things yourself then yes, selling your property privately is something you can definitely do. 

Once you have determined what price you want to sell for, your next step is to employ a photographer to make your house look as good as possible for your advertising. I know a guy, check out his deals here. You will then purchase advertising space on a portal like Property24 or Private Property, maybe even Facebook Marketplace (if you are brave enough to advertise there) then sit back and wait for the prospective buyers to get in touch. 

In my experience of helping people sell privately I have seen excellent success. I got this wonderful voice note from a successful private seller who’s house I photographed earlier this year.

In all instances where the private sellers were successful the common thread was that their properties were impeccably prepared for photography and a good “hero” image was the key factor in getting the prospective buyer to click on their ad. This is critical, so if you are going to embark on a private sale you will have your work cut out for you as far as prep goes before I even arrive. 

I will be supplying a prep document to all my private sellers in 2024 when they order a shoot online. This will tell you what to do to ensure that your images are the best they can be.