Ability of agents in the spotlight

NEAR-MANIC consumer demand during South Africa’s real estate boom, which peaked in 2004, impacted on the country’s property sector in a number of ways.

It depleted stock levels to record lows, which in turn encouraged sellers to set premium prices – and saw buyers pay them – says Mike Bester, CEO of Realty 1 International Property Group. In so doing, entry level affordability was dealt a harsh blow, while the average middle market price soared, hitting R950 000 in September, according to Absa.

It also caused a proliferation of estate agent wannabes, many of whom lacked even the most basic training and skills, yet managed to make a living out of the market because it was essentially driving itself at that time.

With stock levels up again, buying activity down and consumers reeling from a series of interest rate hikes and the implementation of tough new credit legislation, however, today’s market is becoming increasingly intolerant of agents who do not add value to both the marketing and selling processes, says Bester.

According to a spokesperson for the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the number of registered estate agents exceeded 84 000 in September this year but Bester says this figure is likely to start reducing as market conditions become more exacting.

“While properties tended to sell themselves during the heydays, sometimes for more than the original asking price, we’ve entered a buyer’s market in which stock, particularly in the middle and upper markets, is fairly plentiful. It’s also a market in which negotiations between buyer and seller have become the norm and properties are frequently selling for less than asking price.”

This altered state of the market, further characterized by rising levels of buyer and seller knowledge of real estate, is putting the spotlight directly on agents’ abilities, he says, which will ultimately lead to under-trained and less-than-committed operators falling by the wayside.

Says Bester: “Deal brokering has become a major feature of the current property market, with sellers and buyers increasingly relying on professionals to put together deals and make them work. Having a willing buyer and a willing seller is only half the recipe of a successful sale today – it also requires a high level of skill on the part of the agent in terms of being able to find a common meeting place between the two parties.”

He continues: “Today’s success­ful buyers and sellers have become those who elect to work with educated professionals whose ability extends beyond listing a property.”

14/11/2007 12:58 PM - (SA)

Tyger Burger

Article from: www.news24.com