Timeless property tips

From a Grande Dame of South Africa's residential property game.

Joan Richter is celebrating 40 years in the real estate game, as an estate agent, business operator and investor. She shares some insights on selling and investing property.

Q. Do you invest in property? If so, what type? And what are your best investment tips, from your own experiences?

A. Yes, I invest in property. I think that one and two bedroom apartments are a very good long term investment.

Q. Your best property investment? Your worst property investment?

The best was a townhouse in Morningside we purchased renovated and sold at a handsome profit. Bad - we haven't had one yet.

Q. Why did you decide to pursue a career in property?

A. In 1970 I was a young mother of two small children and wanted a mornings-only job. A friend who was an agent at Aida Real Estate suggested that I join mornings only, as a canvasser...which I did, going from door to door. The Administration Manager announced one morning that all the canvassers were "fired", as business was bad. I decided to wait to meet Aida Geffen, who I had read all about. I waited for over two hours, and met Aida with the words "I'm fired before I'm hired". Two days later I received a phone call from Aida inviting me to join her and sell property. She liked my foot-in-the-door attitude. I began a successful career as an agent. I was then asked to become sales manager and in the following years became sales director of Aida Real Estate and then director of Aida National Franchises and when the company was listed on the JSE, Director of Aida Holdings Limited.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. I enjoy meeting people. Unlike other business deals, selling or buying a home is a very emotional experience for people, as it is normally the biggest single investment of their lives, and experiencing their excitement on selling or buying a home.

Q. What is your unique skill or special skill that, you believe, sets you apart from other agents?

A. I was taught to be "true to yourself", and put your sellers and buyers first and the rest will follow.

Q. Are you an estate agent for bargain-hunters or sellers who want to maximise their profits? What types of buyers do you attract?

A. I am an estate agent who sells from a quality seller to a quality buyer.

Q. What tips do you have for property buyers wishing to snap up bargains?

A. There are very few bargains in the areas in which we sell. A well-educated buyer will be drawn to conclude a sale on a property which is priced correctly for the area.

Q. What tips do you have for sellers who want to avoid bargain hunters?

A. Sellers should be guided by the experts in their area as to the market value of their property and the marketing process will be a quick, swift transaction, with both parties walking away winning.

Q. What are the worst mistakes you have seen buyers and sellers make?

A. Sellers refusing an initial offer on their homes if the home has just come onto the market, and several weeks or months or years down the line having to accept a substantially lower offer. In terms of the buyers, the ones that we show a home to which is exactly to their specs and within their budget who refuse to put in an offer, saying that they have just entered the market. After looking around for a while, the same buyers come back to the same "ideal" home that we have already shown them, only to be told that it is sold.

Q. What is the funniest, strangest thing you have seen a buyer or seller?

A. At a show day, a buyer who had submitted an offer on the property returned to the house, after changing his mind about the deal, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye crawling on all fours trying to get the offer out of my briefcase.

Q. Have you ever been the victim of crime in your line of work? If so, what happened, how did you deal with it and why did you stay in the game?

A. I am fortunate that I have never been victim of crime in a work-related situation.

Q. Tell us more about your business. How many properties, would you say, you've sold over the years?

A. My business consists of a few of my colleagues from the "Aida" stable including my sister Estelle Taitz, and collectively just these people constitute nearly 200 years of expertise in the industry. We focus and dedicate ourselves to personal commitment and service to each client, thus generating a great volume of referral business and many properties being sold many times over. I have personally sold approximately 1 000 homes over the years and assisted my sales teams to close many more deals.

Q. Did you become wealthy or financially comfortable through your property business? If not, why not?

A. I am financially comfortable through hard work and dedication, but you also have to invest in your business.

Q. There are other Richters, relatives in your business. How do you work with them? What are the secrets to working successfully with relatives?

A. Yes, my son Trevor, who comes from a financial and corporate finance background, is the CEO of the company. My husband of 48 years, Raymond, founded the business with me. I think that one of the most important things of working together is to recognize and respect each one's strengths and entrust them to carry out their individual tasks.

Q. If you could do something differently about your career, what would it be?

A. I would have started my own business years ago.

Q. What are your "hottest" (Richter-unique) tips that you give your agents?

A. Discretion, confidentiality constant after sale service and dedication to your clients, whose needs come before your own.

Q. Which competitor do you admire the most? Why?

A. Definitely Eskel Jawitz. He is very knowledgeable and ethical.

Q. What's the most important marketing tool for an agent? Show house, advertising in the newspaper, video tour...?

A. A WELL PRICED PROPERTY followed by show days and good advertising

Article from: www.realestateweb.co.za