Being a property practitioner is no walk in the park

Being a property practitioner is no walk in the park

Private Property South Africa
Kerry Dimmer

I am currently in the process of selling my home to buy another. It was 23 years ago that I last participated in the market. Wow, things have changed dramatically, not least of which is market sentiment. Buyer’s market indeed, and as the stats indicate, I was completely stunned by the response, but even more, I have gained an entirely new appreciation and respect for the property practitioners themselves.

Background

My home was valued in the R1.5-million category, and this was not a straightforward valuation. I live in the centre of a well-established and popular suburb, which sits between one of the main arterial routes in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and the N1 Highway. Competing with the dull sound of traffic are screaming geese because the property has a ‘lake’ frontage and is one of 11 with such a view. The land is not owned by residents but is instead owned by Joburg Parks, which has given residents exclusive use provided they maintain the land. Each owner is responsible for maintaining the strip in front of them right down to the water, which also has fishing rights.

The house I own is also the largest within the small community, and renovations over the years have included a number of decks that avail great views across to Sandton. As property practitioner's say: it’s ‘an entertainer’s dream’, with a double volume ceiling lounge that has stacker doors, creating a huge sense of space and excellent light and ventilation. It is also a freehold with numerous advantages without the constraints of a body corporate, but this can be a blessing and a curse.

It was suggested by the agent, Lize from Leadhome, that I complete an un-tiled bathroom, which I did over the course of one week. During that week, I viewed a number of properties and found one marketed by Rory at RealNet, and made an offer subject to the sale of my existing property, which was accepted, allowing me 30 days to sell my house. So the race against time was on.

Marketing

My house was marketed across various property listing websites. One of the property lisiting website i utilised gave me access to a personal online dashboard. I was keen to see how much information would be in using such technology. Every aspect of my journey was recorded and viewable, including communications between myself and the property practitioner.

Viewing

I had made the decision to show the house myself for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I work from home. Through the dashboard, I selected two afternoons across a consecutive number of hours between 12h00 and 19h00.

Within 10 minutes, ttwo viewings had been booked, which escalated, unbelievably, to 48 by the next morning. Few time slots remained open, meaning I was set to show my house roughly every 15 minutes. Every booking to view was confirmed both by SMS and email. I was also reminded via email, on the day of the viewings, of the viewers’ names and also given their ID numbers.

It felt like an onslaught, which I must say has given me an entirely new appreciation for what property practitioners go through when marketing a property. I also requested that Lize communicate to prospective buyers that no bags be brought into the home, having heard from friends of thefts they experienced during their own show days.

It was overwhelming at times: four cars with occupants literally queueing in my driveway. As it is with back-to-back appointments, if one viewer runs late, it has a ripple effect on everyone that follows, but with one or two free 15 minutes times slots, nobody was really delayed by more than 10 minutes in the worst-case scenario. The repetition of showing the house also became rather draining, and here again, my thoughts turned to the property practitioners who literally have to adapt to the different perspectives and needs of viewers.

Questions and answers

One of the advantages of showing your own home is obviously the fielding of questions, many of which, in my case, a property practitioner would not have been able to answer regardless of how much they understand the property dynamics and the community. These questions revealed a number of important aspects about buyers: the history of a home is important, being able to engage with the outdoor space, ventilation and light is extremely popular, and security is crucial.

The most common questions asked by potential buyers and some reveals were:

  • Who are the major security companies active in the area, and what relative costs and extent of service provided?
  • Any roof, plumbing or electrical issues in recent times?
  • Neighbour demographics: young, elderly, number of children and pets etc.
  • Noise levels from the surrounding environment.
  • Regardless of advertising that the property is freehold, there is a lack of understanding about how freehold types of properties work in an estate.
  • What renovations have been actioned in the buyer’s ownership journey?

Analytics

So, let’s look at the statistics derived from marketing and showing the property:

  • Enquiries made: 90
  • Website views: 3668
  • Feedback from viewers: 43
  • Viewings booked: 48 over two afternoons.

Offers

The big question is, of course, what offers? Three were presented. One was rejected after a credit check. I suggested to the property practitioner that we explore the willingness of both parties to up the offer. Both did, so I signed an initial offer and a competing one.

There is a downside to this. Having shown both couples the home myself means I have engaged with them on a personal level. They have shared, with the property practitioner and me, the heart-warming stories that brought them to my door. Now I understand why property practitioners prefer to isolate sellers from buyers; it removes the emotional connection completely and allows the seller to make sound business decisions.

Conclusion

Overall, I commend property practitioners. It is one thing as a property journalist to write about their activities, share their knowledge and reference their skills, but now I have experienced the hand-holding, the exhausting process of showing a home over and over and over, and how imperative it is to respond immediately to questions and requests,it has changed many of my perspectives.

Mostly though, I can now relate to property practitioners as human beings, not simply as professionals. How they avoid becoming emotionally attached to both buyers and sellers seems to me to be one of the hardest aspects of the job. However, in my experience, both Lize and Rory are consummate professionals, and I thank them for their guidance, patience, and generous spirits.

Writer : Kerry Dimmer

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