Real Estate News - Marketing overseas

PROMINENT real estate group Sotheby’s International Realty, which is operated in SA by Lew Geffen, has lashed out at some of its peers, saying South African estate agents are “winning mandates” by “creating a false impression” to clients that they are marketing their properties internationally.
The group says the main motivation is to secure sole mandates from sellers in SA and that the Advertising Standards Authority should investigate this type of misleading advertising.

The group says that many of the big real estate companies advertise to South African sellers that they will give “real” international exposure to their clients at property exhibitions such as the annual Earls Court exhibition in London, which attracts 30000 visitors.

Sotheby’s International Realty executive director Barak Geffen says many agents mislead the public with this international tag, and it is well known among industry players that foreign exhibitions are used to get sole mandates from sellers.

He says many sellers have come to Sotheby’s because it has access to an exclusive purchaser database and referral network in more than 25 countries and has had much success in selling to international clients.

“We have measured our response rate from exhibiting at Earls Court in London, among other exhibitions in other countries, compared with the response rates from adverts placed in our proprietary direct international marketing channels through our international offices and the Sotheby’s auction house, and this has further proven an overwhelming discrepancy in responses,” Geffen says.

It is impossible to buy an international audience for a few thousand rand and if you want exposure through a well-known international brand, it costs millions of rand,” he says.

Lew Geffen paid millions to secure the Sotheby’s International brand and wants the business to realise value for that, he says.

However, other real estate groups say Sotheby’s International Realty is also using a marketing strategy to attract sellers and buyers and to obtain mandates.

Herschel Jawitz, CE of real estate group Jawitz Properties, says there is a perception across the country that a large number of foreign buyers are acquiring South African properties.

Jawitz says companies have followed different strategies in order to capture their share of the foreign-buyer market.

“These strategies include overseas exhibitions and attaching a foreign brand to a local brand. And all of these strategies are primarily designed to convince sellers that they (real estate groups) are able to expose their properties to a wider audience,” says Jawitz.

Chas Everitt Franchising CEO Barry Davies says that being aligned to a large brand in Europe does not necessarily bring in more buyers because the large international brand also has to focus on trying to sell its own properties in its core market.

He says international exhibitions do offer value.

“They are just another spoke in our wagon wheel. It’s not our only marketing strategy. It’s one part of a comprehensive strategy,” says Davies.

He says the firm has found many leads out of these exhibitions but that these require work. “I agree that just putting up a stand and throwing some properties on is no guarantee of a return to the seller.”

Chas Everitt has associations with overseas companies that connect the group with buyers at these exhibitions.

“If it’s done correctly, a stand at an international exhibition can have value,” Davies says.

“I don’t think it should be pooh-poohed, because at the end of the day we are out there marketing SA.”

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