Countering the rise of property scammers
The year 2017 is going to be remembered for many years to come, not only from a political perspective, like the fall of Robert Mugabe, but a year of economic turmoil in South Africa that undoubtedly affected an array of different markets. We saw some areas of the property market skyrocket and increase in unprecedented ways and other areas that completely stagnated causing much concern.
South Africans have a desire for information and generally speaking are informed consumers. With the ANC National Conference happening in a few days many of us are keeping a close eye on the outcome, predicting the existential effects of the conclusion - hoping there might be some relief for cash strapped consumers.
However, despite all the uncertainties and pundits preaching doom over the market, Harcourts South Africa celebrated its best month ever in November 2017. This success seems to defy the general trend and we're very proud that more and more both local and international buyers and sellers are gravitating toward the Harcourts brand.
We've always believed that building relationships both internally and externally will solidify our market presence and prioritise incredible service.
This success goes to show that there is still a lot of activity in the property market but that people have chosen to use respected brands with high referral rates that invest in technology and training that assist the client.
The property market is in a continuous cycle of development and evolution, Harcourts has invested lot of resources and time understanding these changes and developing strategies to ensure growth. Our products and services are aimed at assisting clients in achieving the best results possible.
I have always maintained that property is a long term investment and that the buyer and seller should look at the short term fluctuations with a critical eye. Property defies common economic trends and is able to stand strong against even the most turbulent winds.
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer
The festive season is fast approaching and economic activity and consumer spending typically spikes during this time. Many take leave during December, especially due to the relative warm holiday weather across the country.
Besides local travellers flocking to their favourite destinations, Richard Gray, Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer, says South Africa is a premier holiday spot for international holidaymakers too.
Due to the high demand, popular lodges, hotels, guesthouses, and so forth are usually fully booked months in advance.
“This is where renting out your property over this period to tourists can be a great source of secondary investment income, as well as a way to ensure your home does not stand empty while you're away,” says Gray.
If you're thinking of letting out your home during this season here are few things to consider:
Firstly, it is imperative you get in touch with a rental specialist agent in your area that understands the market well. Not only will this agent be able to provide you with an accurate valuation of potential rental income, but also be able to manage your tenant requirements. This process can often be a dissuading factor for home owners not wanting to deal with the hassle of vetting potential tenants, as well as getting all the legalities in order. A rental agent will have all the necessary experience and training to assist greatly when exploring this option.
Secondly, the sooner the better. People tend to make holiday arrangements long in advance, and it is always better to step into the market whilst your potential tenants are deciding on accommodation. You don't want to go through all the processes of letting out your home only to find it was too late and with your potential target market being dramatically reduced.
Lastly, letting strangers into your house remains a risk. Take all the necessary safety precautions to ensure your investment is protected. If you have a safe on the property, make sure accessibility is strictly reduced. Also, if you have any items of a high value, rather lock them away in the safe or acquire a safety box off site for the duration of the tenancy.
“There are a lot more aspects to consider, that is why step one is so important. Partner with professionals, and you'll be surprised at the return on investment potential,” says Gray.
The latest PayProp rental index for the third quarter of 2017 released recently indicates where rental prices have increased and decreased across the South African property landscape.
We've seen how the state of the economy has influenced consumer confidence and put many of us into price pinch between rising food costs, fuel costs and less disposable income.
The index states that there was a significant drop in rental growth and an increase in inflation in September, the last month of the quarter. As a result, a closing of the gap is evident as rental growth returns to levels closer to inflation growth (last seen in November 2016).
More data released by the index shows that if you compare the year-on-year (YoY) growth rates of Q3 and Q2, you observe that rents are currently growing at a lower pace, and if you consider growth across the provinces, you can see why. Five out of the nine provinces saw a reduction in the rental growth rate while the four provinces showing (modest) increases contribute less than a third to the total weighting of the overall growth. As a result, the weighted average YoY growth rate decreased from 6.9% to 5.9% between Q2 and Q3.
Our experiences are similar to what the index identifies and despite it being a tough year, rental incomes are starting to make the climb back to the top. There are areas like the Western Cape and Gauteng, even certain markets in regions that appear to be on the decline have somewhat weathered this storm. Taking the Northern Cape for example, as the index shows, clocked YoY growth of 9.3% in Q3, up from a below-average 3.8% a mere six months before.
There are market factors that paint a bleak picture and affordability among consumers has become the result of macroeconomic instability, but the positive in the market, aspects like the rent-to-income ratio on an upward trend, property remains a solid long term investment.Statement by
Harcourts International, recognised in the real estate industry for game-changing mobile technology, has launched the Harcourts App Store. Built with Apple’s iOS (operating system), the store is an enterprise application through which Harcourts team members can access, download, update and install its proprietary mobile applications eOne, eOpen and eCampaign.
“We are one of the first real estate companies, globally, to take advantage of and build our own member-facing app store on Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program,” said Anton Jansen van Vuuren, Harcourts South Africa National Operations Manager.
“While most people are familiar with the Apple App Store, resident on all iPhones and iPads, the Harcourts App Store is a business to business solution to allow Harcourts team members to access our proprietary mobile applications eOne, eOpen and eCampaign, which were custom built and developed in-house. They are the backbone of what makes Harcourts unique in the marketplace, and they’re utilised across Harcourts' 150-plus office network in South Africa,” explained Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa CEO.
The company’s three mobile apps utilise Apple iOS built-in technologies, seamless security, and integration with Harcourts enterprise systems. This month the Harcourts apps will benefit from a new release that offers enhancements specific to management of client information, designing bespoke marketing campaigns, registering and communicating with both buyers and sellers.
“The Harcourts App Store is an important milestone for our business focus on innovation,” continued Jansen van Vuuren. “We believe designing and building tailored solutions that our members can utilise on their mobile devices is essential to boosting productivity and the quality of service to their clients. It’s what sets us apart in the real estate industry.”
The vision for Harcourts is to deliver an unparalleled client experience. It is through the mobile app development platform of providing an end-to-end mobile solution to empower team members to operate with equal efficiency and effectiveness whether in the field or in the office.
"Harcourts was the first international real estate company in the world to have its mobile business solutions featured on Apple’s website. In recognition of Harcourts’ innovation and use of the iPad and iPhone to drive greater efficiency and productivity, Apple, produced a video and business case study about Harcourts’ mobile suite of apps," concluded Gray.
Harcourts South Africa
Real estate company has donated $5 million to hundreds of charities in South Africa and the rest of the world.
The Harcourts Foundation, the charitable arm of Harcourts International, has reached the latest milestone of $5 million raised since its launch in 2008. South Africa's arm of the Harcourts foundation, launched in 2011, has already donated R1million to the foundation.
Internationally, this translates to 686 charities supported, 311 communities impacted and 851 grants made through Harcourts offices in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.
“The Harcourts Foundation in South Africa is making a significant difference helping communities across the country. 100% of Harcourts South Africa sales offices donate to the Foundation with the sale of each property, and through specially organized events,” said Harcourts South Africa CEO Richard Gray.
Of all the incredible efforts undertaken in the past six years to help disadvantaged families and children, one of the signature events is African Angels, Ride for Education.
The African Angels Independent School, established in 2012, provides a quality primary school education to some of the poorest children in the area. With 88 children attending in 2016, all are from local townships with both economically and socially challenged backgrounds, including orphans.
"Ride for Education is used as a Harcourts team-building exercise to give offices an opportunity to come together for Fun & Laughter, and raise important funds for the community. The 2016 event raised R60,000 and the 2017 event aims to surpass that number," explained Gray.
“The Foundation is funded through Harcourts employee salary sacrifice, ‘off the top’ contributions from sales commissions, and through organised fundraisers,” added Gray.
“The money raised is significant, but what truly is impressive is how Harcourts people are impacting our communities, from supporting programs to end violence against women, and aiding underprivileged families to create a network of financial support for hospice care,” said Jenny Swanson, The Harcourts Foundation Coordinator. “These grants support a wide range of local community organisations that are quietly going about their work, making a difference in the lives of those who need it.”
The Foundation operates as a 100%, charity with all funds raised going directly to grants due to the volunteer-run structure that sees Harcourts employees donate their time and expertise to oversee and administer the process. No management fees, salaries or running costs are taken from the donation account.
"We are incredibly proud of the work The Harcourts Foundation has done over the past nine years," said Harcourts International Managing Director Mike Green. "The Foundation is at the heart of our company's core values, and it is an important part of our success as an international network. Every location in which there is a Harcourts office, there are people in need. We are grateful to be able to give back and make a difference."
There are many great investment opportunities in the local real estate market currently. Often during a bout of economic uncertainty, us as consumers keep our cards close to our chest in an attempt to mitigate risk. Which is always the wise option, however as the dust starts to settle the investment sprouts start to emerge from the now fertile soil.
The tough credit market is still making it difficult for some to secure loans however, when partnering with an experienced agent you ensure greater success as professional agents understand the process far better and deal with it daily.
This is why we emphasize agent support as a key strategic focus. Real estate offices need to put a lot of time and effort into continuously ensuring their agents are trained and equipped with the necessary skills. The market continues to evolve, at times exponentially fast, and successful agents are able to adapt and understand these advancements far better than those left in the dark.
Systems need be put in place that prepare the entire team with the knowledge and skills to develop their client base, build relationships and are able to create an open line of communication between office and clients.
Another essential part of a real estate office’s agent relationship understanding is that clients are people, usually making the largest investment of their life. Alternatively selling a part of their family’s history that has been the source of dozens of treasured memories. A certain amount of understanding of what the clients fears and hesitance are is incredibly important. Partnering with your client and building a trusted relationship almost always leads to success and an improved customer relationship.
At Harcourts we identified the necessity for this a long time ago and that is why we have the Harcourts Academy. Our training academy facilitated by industry experts with a full annual programme of courses. Agents and offices are always kept up to date on the latest legislative changes, advancements in communications and marketing tools, relationship building, leadership skills and other important knowledge.
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer