When we started our website in 1998, we disrupted the industry by allowing sellers to list their properties privately. This upset many agents, and to be honest, we understand why.
Much of marketing in the early days centred on the idea that a seller could save money by cutting out the middle man, the agent.
In 2009, the decision was taken to embrace estate agencies as partners and we started listing property from estate agents. The idea was to give the public one platform where they could access ALL property listings from private owners, agents, banks and developers.
Our marketing efforts since then have concentrated on changing the perception of the way the public sees us.
We’ve gone all out to build and promote a fantastic website that our browsers enjoy visiting and using. They no longer associate us with a site that lists property from private sellers but consider us instead to be, first and foremost, a property portal where they can find all types of property listings. In other words, Private Property is now considered a brand name, not a description of what we do.
Unfortunately, the way some agents view us hasn’t changed. Some of it is due to the ill-feeling that we no doubt contributed to in our early years, but most of it is due to the fact that we still list properties from private sellers.
So, why do we still allow private listings?
It’s simple really, we believe that sellers should have a choice. If they feel that they have the required expertise to sell their property themselves, then we allow them to do so. And if they don’t use us, they’ll try and sell privately through another website. In fact, our largest competitor, has also recently started listing private sales from a third party.
So rather than take away their choice, we instead try and educate the public on the value of using estate agents through the news and advice sections of our websites. See a recent example below:
Interestingly enough, 80% of sellers who initially list their property privately end up using an estate agent.
This shows that many of our site’s users do see the value, even if it’s sometimes belatedly, in using an agent.
It’s also worth noting that these private listings are also a valuable source of leads with 45% of estate agents who access our website doing so in order to secure mandates.
Working together Private Property and the industry can change the public’s (sometimes negative) perception of the industry. We’ll continue to emphasise the important role that agencies play in the market and agencies should concentrate on adding real value to the sales process in terms of imparting knowledge, relieving stress and achieving the best possible price – in other words, putting the client first. If we do this then most sellers would not even consider trying to sell privately.
Our vision for the future is a partnership, one we’ve started to build on by bringing estate agencies on board during the hugely successful ‘Win a Home’ show that aired on SABC3 last year. We provide a great portal that introduces buyers and sellers to estate agents, and the agents in turn give these buyers and sellers the best possible service.
Working together, we can ensure that Private Property and agents both enjoy the benefits of a positive reputation in the South African marketplace.