Helderberg property boom on the way, says Rawson Franchisee
There has, said Schalk van der Merwe, franchisee of Rawson Properties Helderberg franchise, been a notable pick up in sales in both Strand and Somerset West home sales over the last three months.

Turnover in his franchises, he said, was in July, August and September 85% up on that of the same months last year – and although this is possibly above average for real estate agencies in the area other firms have also seen an upswing.

In Somerset West, he said, the main activity has been seen in the R1,3 to R2 million bracket and the position is similar in Strand, with the difference that here first time homebuyers of affordable houses (i.e. below R800 000) are at last coming back to the market. They have, said van der Merwe, been encouraged by the 100% bonds now available for lower cost homes from several banks – up to R2 million in value in some cases.

One reason for the pickups, said van der Merwe, is that most buyers see the house prices as about to reverse their downward path, stabilise and move up.

“This is an accurate perception because nationally deflation in prices was reduced in September to 4,4% from over 6% in August and FNB are predicting that they will again be in positive territory by 2010.”

Repeating a message that he has put out on previous occasions, van der Merwe said that the downward trend in prices this year was in no small way due to four out of ten sales in the affordable sector being “forced”, i.e. made essential by repossessions or bankruptcies.

This, he said, led to some people thinking that the very significant reductions of 20% to 30% achieved at auctions were universal throughout the market – but this was definitely not the case.

“At most the price reductions in 2009 have been on average 15%,” he said.

At the moment Rawson’s Strand office employs twelve agents but it is a sign of how prospects have improved that van der Merwe is “totally confident” that this figure will rise significantly by the end of 2010.

At the moment all the Rawson agents are operating from the Strand Pavilion office but Rawson will reopen a Somerset West office early 2010.

This, said van der Merwe, should be in a higher profile, prestigious position, visible from the main thoroughfare.

Rawson’s Strand will in the coming year adopt the UK practice of splitting their activities among specialist teams handling mandate canvassing, valuations and sales. This, said van der Merwe, is a proven way of achieving efficiency.

As the market improves, so will stock shortages become evident, said van der Merwe. Right now, he said, Rawson’s have just under 400 homes for sale in Somerset West and between 300 and 320 in Strand.

“This,” he said, “means that buyers in this area can find homes at anything from R250 000 to R22 million – the range of opportunities is far wider than in most Cape precincts.”

The upturn, said van der Merwe, is also evident in rentals in the last few months.

Rental increases on new leases have been significantly higher. (The company manages a large portfolio of properties and expects to increase this figure as they have recently appointed two assistants to manage the rental portfolio in Helderberg.)

Van der Merwe warned sellers not to start raising prices in expectation of better times, even though these are on the way. Referring again to the FNB report, he said, the widespread expectation is that in 2010 house prices will rise only ±5%.

Asked what sets any one agency apart from its rivals, van der Merwe said that Rawson’s analyses of their clients’ reasons for coming to them indicate that seven out of ten came because they had either dealt with Rawson’s previously or had been recommended to them.

“The secret of success is, quite clearly, to look after your existing client base well rather than to spend too much effort chasing new customers.”

Article from: www.rawson.co.za