Net the way for house-hunting

NEW legislation pertaining to the country’s real estate sector, which is expected to be promulgated early in 2007, is likely to precipitate a substantial fall-off in agent numbers in the ensuing months.

But, says Mike Bester, CEO of Realty 1 International Property Group, the industry’s oft-quoted 80/20 principle will remain applicable to consumers who will still need to choose their estate agents with care. “The principle is based on the fact that around 20 percent of estate agents conduct 80 percent of the sales,” he says, adding that it is therefore vital for property sellers to select their agents from the active percentage.

Changed market conditions make it even more important to work with a professional, he continues, since more skill will be required to conclude deals between buyers and sellers today than in previous years when the market was booming and stock snapped up for the going price almost as soon as it was listed.

“The current real estate environment has moved away from a sellers’ market and into the control of buyers. It was a lot easier to sell when people were literally queuing up for homes two years ago. Sellers had the upper-hand and were accordingly not interested in discussing a price.

‘‘Now, in the wake of rampant over-pricing along with a rising interest rate and increasing stock levels, buyers are calling the tune. They are both well informed and skittish about what they pay for their properties, the result of which is a notable gap in listing versus selling prices that didn’t exist at the height of the boom.”

Not only does Bester advocate dea?ling with a trained professional when it comes to buying or selling real estate – which for many constitutes the single biggest financial undertaking of their lives – but he also recommends choosing an agent with a multi-faceted ap?proach to marketing.

“Traditionally, property advertising was done through the media, usually newspapers. Today, marketing and prospecting for clients have become an entirely different ball game, with results coming from a variety of different mediums including the hard media, websites and the Internet, and agent referral networks.”

Companies and agents that embrace a multi-faceted approach will ensure success for their clients in any market, he notes, especially those who believe, as he does, that house hunting via Internet is going to become the way of the future.

Citing the results of the giant USA-based National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2005, Bester says there is no doubt that technology is also playing an increasingly important role in terms of buying and selling trends in South Africa. One of the largest surveys of real estate ever conducted shows that while nine out of 10 home buyers use an estate agent in the search process, the use of the Internet to search for a home has risen dramatically, increasing from only 2 percent of buyers in 1995 to 77 percent in 2005.

Bester says that, according to the profile, 77 percent of American home buyers used the Internet as an information source last year. This will in all likelihood also become the trend in South Africa future, he adds. Accordingly, Realty 1 IPG has upgraded its website in order to be able to offer not only a substantial property database to homebuyers but also free advice for consumers, regardless of their real estate allegiance.

Article by: Tyger Burger