Millionaire estate agents

Times may be tough, but some agents are earning R1m-plus/year in commission for selling property.

Some estate agents are earning more than R1m a year in commission for selling property. Although income is down on South Africa's property boom years earlier this decade, that's pretty good going.

And we're not talking about agents who specialise only in the R10m-plus residential real estate bracket.

After all, commission of R1m is probably small change to those few agents who are still taking their clients to see properties in top-of-the-range sports cars and keeping their wives behind the steering wheels of luxury 4X4s.

Annetjie Banade

Realestateweb spoke to several successful estate agents to find out what they are doing that is different or better in a market climate that seasoned property sellers have described as the toughest ever in their careers.

Volumes have dropped off dramatically, property prices have been falling and some have even wondered whether South Africa is in the midst of a house price crash. Many estate agents have gone out of business and others are struggling to pay their daily expenses, taking on other work lines - from selling pudding and clothes next to displays of homes on the market to waiting on tables at night.

The testimony of successful agents, however, suggests that quite a lot of business is still going on.

Leapfrog estate agents Annetjie Benade, of Irene, and Jacques Bronkhorst, of Glenvista, were recently singled out at the company's awards ceremony for earning more than R1m in registered commission each.

Other agents in the company achieved not far off that, with Al Homan and Bruce Haywood of the Constantiaberg franchise generating substantial sales within 18 months of operating under the Leapfrog brand.

Al Homan

Seeff also revealed that some of its agents are thriving in these trying times, at its recent Northern Region awards' event. Seeff Pretoria East won most of that organisation's awards.

Corli van Heerden sold the most units last year - about 25, while her colleague Rosa Willers who concentrates on an upmarket golf estate took the honours, as you might expect, for value of sales.

Van Heerden told Realestateweb she attributes her success to only working on sole mandates and sticking to serious sellers so she doesn't waste any time or effort. "People in Cape Town think we are mad working only on a sole mandate, but I believe this is necessary so you can remain in control of the process," she said.

Van Heerden says, too, that buyers who are prepared to speak to a mortgage originator to gauge what they might receive in funding are more likely to be serious buyers.

"It's tough out there, but if you know the market, work with the facts and sellers who want to sell, and stay focused, you will sell," said Van Heerden, who operates in a middle class area.

Seeff Pretoria East managing director Gerhard van der Linde's approach was to go big while others have cut down. He said: "While most other companies have scaled down their visibility and marketing, we increased ours, resulting in a gain in market share. We remain positive, despite what anyone else says."

Van der Linde said his agents are area experts when it comes to knowing exactly what has been selling, at what price and what properties are currently on the market.

Jacques Bronhorst

Jacques Bronkhorst, one of the Leapfrog organisation's stars, said similar things. Some of the methods successful agents use sound so obvious and much like sellers might expect any estate agent to do.

Bronkhorst has "stuck to the basics", continuing to emphasise his organisation's visibility although many have cut back on such marketing measures.

In Bronkhorst's case, visibility includes having a regular braai with clients and colleagues - with jumping castles to entertain children. His office has set times for canvassing by handing out banners at intersections, for example.

And Bronkhorst, who has scaled down his operation dramatically, but still has a team of agents working for him, leads by example. "I still ‘sit show'. I'm available 24/7," he said.

Bronkhorst, however, also has some other tricks up his sleeve that you may not have come across at other estate agencies to help keep himself and his colleagues motivated.

For example, at Leapfrog Glenvista "you are either hot or not".

And your name and status is displayed on a board for all to see. Bronkhorst allocates points, so agents for example get points for securing mandates, seeing clients and finalising deals. The more points, the higher the commission cut.

Those with the most points are listed in the "hot" category; worst performers under "not".

Another creative agent is Al Homan, who decided to offer free furniture removals to his sellers. The offering has worked a treat across Cape Town's southern suburbs, with Homan's van adding value to his clients as well as providing extra visibility for his brand in the area.

Homan, who gave up a corporate career because he wanted to be in control of his own destiny, said making money in these times "is a matter of attitude".

"It is easy to whinge, but there are opportunities in any market. It is tougher, so you have to work harder and smarter," said Homan.

Article from: