SA's new estate agents

They young, hip and full of vibe.

Real estate has often been associated with more mature people who have been in the industry for years but this is changing.

Young people are becoming more hands-on in the property market, not only as investors but also as estate agents.

According to Clive Ashpol from the education and training department at the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), young estate agents add significant value to the estate agency profession.

Although the EAAB was not able to provide relevant statistics on the number of registered young estate agents, he said the profession is evolving and young people are finding it exciting to be part of it.

He said young estate agents are more likely to follow the latest trends and developments especially where new technology such as the use of the internet as a communication medium is concerned.

"Many young first time buyers and sellers are entering the market and they may feel more comfortable dealing with young estate agents," said Ashpol.

Tjaart van der Walt, a national director of the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa (IEASA) said young estate agents seem to be growing in number now, unlike in the so-called boom-period.

As a result, they are probably more prepared to do what is necessary to succeed during tough market conditions. They are also technological savvy and are more creative when it comes to fresh marketing concepts and finding alternative solutions to conventional challenges.

We are convinced that young estate agents have an important role to play and professionalism is a prerequisite of any successful sales person. Young people can be successfully trained under the new education dispensation.

Dr Andrew Golding, vice president in charge of International Relations at IEASA said young agents are experienced in all areas of property business. But most seem to prefer the development property marketing genre.

Dr Golding said young estate agents should be mentored and trained as this is vital for the continued success and energy of the industry.

Challenges facing young estate agents

Ashpol said young estate agents are faced with a major problem of finding rewarding employment in a caring and nurturing environment where they can grow. The new educational dispensation has been designed to ensure that intern estate agents, mostly young people will continuously be under the care and support of a dedicated principal for 12 months.

Van der Walt believes that young estate agents require a complete package before they can be truly professionals.

He said one requires skills and knowledge of real estate, demographics, property law, property finance, sales skills and management skills to be in the real estate business.

"The young estate agent will need to work harder than his experienced rival. "Proper preparation and a true interest in what is best for his client and the right attitude will go a long way," he said.

Asked if sellers will give their sole mandate to young estate agents, Van der Walt said it depends on the agent's positioning and offering. However, any estate agent who offers appropriate value propositions will enjoy support from property sellers.

Dr Golding said giving a sole mandate to young estate agents depends on a number of variables including the age and demographic profile of the seller and the company the agent is working for.

He added that young estate agents undoubtedly can add value to the profession and they are also able to easily identify with their peer groups.

Tips from young realtors

Jonathan Acutt, 27, has been in the real estate industry for five years now and his family for 150 years, so as a child, he was exposed to the real estate business and always knew that his future was in property.

A qualified estate agent, Acutt is also a director of the Institute of Estate Agents in KwaZulu-Natal where he oversees the IT portfolio. He is also the general manager of Acutts Estate Agents.

"I appeal more to the younger end of the market and put all efforts into establishing a good relationship with my clients," said Acutt.

Acutt said an estate agent needs guts, no matter how many times you get knocked down, get up and go out and do your job.

"My father always taught me to get to know the client and never try to over sell the property... and "value the relationship over the transaction," said Acutt.

His selling secrets are very simple - know your product. You cannot sell a home if you do not know everything there is to know about the property. He does not believe in over selling the property either.

Another important thing is to overcome a potential buyer's objection. He says when a buyer has an objection to something in the home, it means they are interested and want to iron out the finer details.

"Work your circle of influence or database. People would rather do business with someone they know instead of a stranger," said Acutt.

This has helped me to offer a broad property service to my clients. I also have an extensive knowledge of both the Cape Town and Durban property markets. This is handy when I have clients relocating between the two cities, he said.

He said he sells and will continue to sell property to young South Africans as he relates to their experiences of buying property for the first time.

When talking to young people, Acutt tells his clients about his own personal experiences and tells his clients that an informed buyer is a happy buyer.

The National Credit Act has made it near impossible for the average person to enter the property market. This has led to major reductions in conclusive home sales over the last year. But with the recent drop in interest rates, an increase in new home buyers into the market is eminent, said Acutt.

"Being in real estate goes beyond selling a house. "We as estate agents assist people in moving into the next chapter of their lives," he said.

Another young estate agent is 26-year-old Bronson Vos, who has been in the real estate industry for eight years.

When his peers at the age of 18 were thinking of going to university or travelling the world, Vos already knew he wanted to be an estate agent.

He gleaned this from helping his father, who has been in the industry for two decades, on weekends to put up show boards.

Vos started his career as a candidate estate agent at Equity Real Estate in Cape Town. Today, he is co-franchisee and manages operations at Rawson Properties in Ceres outside Cape Town.

The idea of being my own boss with unlimited income potential was enticing enough for me to choose real estate as a career, said Vos.

Selling property is not a one-off transaction to make quick bucks, but a long-term career that is developed over time. My biggest career challenge was a move from Cape Town to Ceres five years ago, he said.

"I needed to establish new contacts, build a good reputation before transacting, a process which needed both patience and hard work," said Vos.

Vos said the market is never stable and competition is fierce in the industry. You either have too many properties and not enough buyers or more buyers and not enough property.

He never forces people to buy property. When taking on properties to sell, he said he lists properties that have good value and are priced such that they sell quickly.

Vos recently completed an auctioneering course as he believes it is becoming a popular and transparent way of selling property.

Grant Campbell, 31, started his career as a sales and marketing consultant two years ago at Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in Umhlanga.

He is no stranger to the property industry as he earned his pocket money from the age of 14 through house sitting show houses - and this is where he gained knowledge about the property industry.

As a new comer into the estate agent profession, he worked towards understanding the basics of real estate first and the rest fell into place.

He said to build a good client base and make a name for oneself, it is important that one knows the area they operate in.

"Become a specialist in your area, make regular appearances at networking sessions, that way you will meet new potential clients," he added.

As with any other career, Campbell reckons it requires hard work and determination to stay in the game of buying and selling property.

He believes young people who have energy and passion can make it work for them in the property industry but warns that one is as good as their last sale.

Seasoned estate agents know the game, so a young agent who really wants to succeed in their profession needs to learn as much as they can and never badmouth or try to run down other people with their sales tactics.

Apart from his real estate qualifications, Campbell has a degree in marketing and has worked for Old Mutual in London as an IT specialist.

Article by: Denise Mhlanga - www.realestateweb.co.za