Time for agents to think globally

Everyone knows that there are hundreds of thousands of South Africans living in Perth and London, but not many are aware that there are also 30 000 living in Florida in the US, and thousands in the states of Georgia and Michigan.

This emerged at the recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) conference held in Orlando, Florida and attended by several SA representatives, including Dr Willie Marais, national president of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEASA), who says: “Since 1994 the world has been open to South Africans and while many have chosen to emigrate permanently, many are also just working overseas to broaden their experience and before returning to SA.

“And either way, their property needs demonstrate that an international view and global connections are now more important to estate agents than ever before. Agents are a trusted source of real estate information and the profession must increasingly cross borders to assist clients to access the best home ownership and real estate investment opportunities.”

This is one of the reasons IEASA has placed such importance over the past year on regaining its ties with the NAR and on strengthening its role in ICREA, the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations. “Our membership of ICREA, for example, means that we are able to offer our members use of the biggest international property website, www.worldproperties.com, and a global referral system.

“In addition, we are now able to offer SA agents local courses to gain the internationally recognised Certificate of the International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation as well as the TRC, the Trans-national Referral Certificate.”

Meanwhile, Marais says, it is interesting to note the increased flow of South Africans to the US recently, and the opportunities for local agents in helping them to relocate. Many are, he believes, taking advantage of the drastic fall in American home prices over the past year, which has made home ownership in the US relatively more affordable.

“According to the NAR’s most recent existing-home sales report, the US national median existing-home price for all housing types was $191,600 in September, down 9% from a year ago when the median was $210,500.”

On the other hand, though, SA agents also need to be thinking about how to attract homebuyers and property investors from abroad, especially in the light of the positive exposure the country will receive during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Countries to target, he suggests, would be Brazil, Russia, India and China, which together account for about 25% of the world gross domestic product and are generating about 80m new middle-class consumers every year. “If we play our cards right, we can perhaps attract many of these newly affluent consumers to SA in years to come.”

Article by: www.ieasa.org.za