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Nick Whitely - Business Hi-Lite - 08 / 2005

By Jill Fish Published by Spearhead

I could count on one hand the number of people I know who have not experienced headaches and complications when buying or selling a home.

There always seems to be something that goes wrong - whether it be the discovery of latent defects (very common), problems with raising the finance, legal hitches or outbuildings that have been built without approved plans.

Jill Fish, an East London estate agent, has now written a book that explains all the do's and don'ts to remember when buying or selling a property, right down to the actual wording of the sale contract. In clear, simple English, the author spells out such essential information as what to fix when preparing your house for sale without spending too much money.

She takes us through all aspects of the transaction every step of the way, pulling no punches and coming up with many useful tips and insights.

When selling a property, many sellers often ask a price that is wishful thinking at best, and Jill explains in great detail how to settle on a fair price so that the property sells quickly.

Buying or selling a home is an experience that can easily be fraught with problems, adding just one more stress to our daily lives. For those who want the process to run smoothly - and who doesn't? - Jill Fish's book is obligatory reading, and should be seen as an excellent investment.

A dream come true

Local estate agent waits years to be able to write her first book. by Lloyd Oldham Go Magazine Thurs June 16 2005

HOME TRUTHS: Jill Fish's first book, A Guide to Buying and Selling a House in South Africa, is available at leading book stores now.
AN East London estate agent has finally realised her dream of writing a book - a dream she has had ever since she was praised by a teacher for an English composition she wrote in grade five.

Years later Jill Fish remembers the positive influence that praise has had on her life and, now, possibly the lives of homeseekers and homeowners who will be guided by her book, A Guide to Buying and Selling a House in South Africa.

"I became an estate agent in 1998 and although I was in my fabulous 40s, I was lucky enough to have found my passion. The book is a result of that," says Jill.

Numerous issues facing property novices are tackled, including buying a home for the first time, selling and buying again, or wanting to earn income from renting out property.

According to Jill, homeseekers frequently make major errors. "Establishing affords ability before even approaching a bank is the first requisite," reads the chapter called Cant You Afford It?.

"Your home loan must suit your pocket and not only your lifestyle, so you need to keep cash aside in order to live."

Jill warns that while its very tempting for new homeseekers to take advantage of the present low prime rate. But it won't last forever.

"The book is intended to fill the gaps in people's knowledge. These may range from wanting to know how to detect defects and who is responsible for repairing and paying for those problems, to how to go about making an offer on a property to the purchaser's best advantage."

The guide is simple, yet comprehensive at the same time. It moves from advice on bath cleaning to legal documents which may be encountered in marketing a home. The book is already available at CNA and Exclusive Books in East London and is published by New Africa Books, an imprint of Spearhead.

The official launch is on June 23 at 5.30pm at The Blue Ribbon. For more information get in touch with Jill on 043 726 8382.

Reviews of Jill's book-Second Edition in the press.
How to buy and sell property in SA
By Nosipho Kota ( Daily Dispatch )

THE first offer is usually the right one. This is one of just a few wise tips you would get from reading Jill Fish's new book on buying and selling property.

A Guide to Buying and Selling a House in South Africa, published by New Africa Books, is East London estate agent Fish's first book. This Mthatha-born woman was inspired to write the book when she saw that there was a need to fill in the gaps that were often not seen when one thought of buying or selling a house. "I think that inside most people there is a desire to do something like this. Umntu ngumntu ngomnye. What this roughly means translated from Xhosa is that a person is a person through others. "One person does not a nation make. We must all stand and grow together. I believe that we can all contribute towards nation building in some small way.

"I am lucky enough to have the knowledge of, and passion for, a subject which may be of benefit to others and so I decided to write this book." It has taken the efficient Fish a year to finish the book, which is basically a guide so that people can make informed decisions when buying or selling property. "Although information is available it essentially covers the legal or financial side of a property transaction.

"This book is intended to fill the gaps. These may range from wanting to know how to detect defects to who is responsible for repairing those sometimes expensive problems, to how to go about making an offer on a property to the purchaser's best advantage." The book touches on issues such as capital gains tax, insurance, wills, pricing and auctioning options.

Jill Fish

There are 26 chapters in the book, with simple examples, illustrations and advice that one can follow easily. "For a seller, useful information includes how to prepare your home for selling at low cost in order to achieve the highest possible price and how to go about selling privately.

"This guide also covers the seller's rights when dealing with an estate agent, and has an important section on pricing correctly which will be invaluable in achieving a quick sale."

Fish says the book is not intended to be a definitive work. "It certainly does not intend to show any services to the industry in a bad light. My intention is to present the choices and options available, so a potential buyer or seller can avoid the trips and traps," says Fish. "I left the estate agency for which I worked for in 2001 and only opened my own agency in 2002. It was during this period that I wrote the main body of the book.

The manuscript has been updated since then, as the property market has changed - as do most businesses." Fish is the principal and sole proprietor of Jill Fish Properties and that means that her clients get a personal service and a "hands-on approach".

Asked how she manages to write and still run her fully-fledged business she says: "I am most fortunate in that I can get to the office more or less in my own time. This is most useful when one is also a wife and a mother. However, estate agents often put in after-hours time and work on weekends, bearing in mind that buyers of property often shop at these times.

"We have to be flexible and accommodate their requirements," says Fish, who does almost everything from hosting her own show-houses to hanging the bunting outside the office on a rainy day. "In other words, the buck stops at my desk." Fish has been an estate agent since 1998 and says her career has been a fulfilling one. "I get great job satisfaction from guiding both buyers and sellers with what is one of the major decisions they ever have to make."

Her advice to those who may want to follow in her big footsteps is that they should realise that it is not as easy as it appears. "It's tough out there. Service is what makes or breaks a good agent and sets them apart. For someone who is thinking of becoming an agent they need to join a reputable agency in order to obtain the necessary experience." So, what are the desirable qualifications for a person who wishes to become an agent?

"It is the ability to foretell what is going to happen to the bond rate tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to apologise and explain why it didn't happen!" (Quote taken from A Guide to Buying or Selling a House in South Africa} with apologies to Winston Churchill for the misquoted quote.