FNB has launched a new, online property tool which should revolutionise the way in which property transactions are conducted. Dubbed ‘FNB Property Leader’, the tool provides step-by-step advice and solutions for those who want to buy or sell property from start to finish.
According to Marius Marais, CEO of FNB Home Loans who presented Property Leader in Johannesburg last week, the tool has been years in the making. He explains that the decision to create such a platform was made when it became apparent that FNB could do so much more with all the information the bank has gathered over the years in its role as a home loan provider.
“For many people the process of buying and selling a property can be overwhelming and emotional and can drag on for months. This tool represents a way to streamline the process and ‘hold’ the consumer’s hand throughout.”
The site is divided into two main blocks, one for buyers and one for sellers. Six primary steps are outlined for buyers, specifically:
• How much can I borrow?
• Get your finance upfront (pre-approval)
• Find a property
• Make an offer
• Get a home loan
• Taking ownership
Those interested in buying a certain property need only log on, submit all the relevant information and documentation required for a home loan through FNB and wait for the system to work its magic. Buyers will receive pre-approval within seconds, following which they can easily track what stage their home loan application is at.
Notes Marais: “The pre-approval process is particularly useful and eliminates a lot of stress straight off the bat. It enables the customer to become a cash buyer and it solves one of the biggest questions, specifically, the question of affordability. The system checks the customer’s credit score and depending on a customer’s risk profile and affordability, the system automatically creates a pre-approval letter which serves as a provisional guarantee, thereby providing much needed negotiating power.”
Notably, FNB partnered with Private Property to drive the ‘Find a Property’ application on the site. In essence, Private Property built the ‘back room’ for this particular function explains Marais.
Those interested in selling need to follow five simple steps:
• What’s my property worth?
• How to sell my property?
• Preparing to sell your property
• Considering offers
• Sign a purchase agreement
Another feature which can be put to good use by both buyers and sellers are the site’s free area and property reports. These are obtained from a number of sources including the deeds office to give a comprehensive overview of a suburb or particular house.
Area reports include details such as average house prices in the area, average increase or decrease in property prices, the types of homes, buyer profiles and area amenities such as schools and shops. A property report includes the last bought and sold price of the property as well as an estimated current value calculated through a model developed for the FNB Property Leader site.
“This type of information is invaluable for those who want to make informed decisions when buying or selling. Buyers will be able to determine fair value of the property by comparing properties with others recently sold. Those looking to sell can determine a fair listing price that will speed up the selling process,” says Marais.
Marais explains that although users can search for property via the site, it is not a property listing platform. Rather, it provides a combination of services which can be added on to existing sites. He adds that it is not the aim of the site to replace estate agents, rather it should be seen as a tool to enhance estate agent services. It is also hoped that as the platform gains users and evolves to include additional functions, more external players such as conveyancers will utilise it.
Additional features such as show day check lists, a jargon dictionary, additional costs, questions to ask the estate agent, occupational rent calculators and tips on how best to present your house also feature. Users can even download check lists to carry out inside prospective homes. Those in a hurry to sell can log on to the site’s ‘QuickSell’ mechanism too.
“We believe that FNB Property Leader is the ultimate tool that will make all consumer’s lives easier and inform their decision making,” concludes Marais.