How to have a successful online property search

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Reporter: Let's just say, I am in the market of buying a house and I'm going to go online, but there are so many different options to choose from. I mean, where do I even start?

Simon Bray: Well, I mean, starting online is pretty much what everyone does these days. Websites like ours have got thousands of new listings every day. In fact we load over a thousand listings a day, 1100-odd listings come on to the website, every single day. That's a lot of new homes. That's a lot of property on the market for anyone to browse and look through. So starting your search there is certainly the right place to start. You're going to see all sorts of different options, but it's easy to get overwhelmed. I mean, you can imagine that many properties in your face, in your area.

So how do you go about ensuring that you're literally looking at the latest properties? Because obviously you want to be at the forefront when searching for your home.

I think when you start your search it's all about seeing everything right. You want to get a good sense of the market. You want to investigate what different price points are doing. You want to understand which agents are worth using and which ones perhaps aren't. But once you've done that, you want get the latest, freshest properties sent right to you. I think that's where email alerts in a particular area a very useful tool. So you get on a website, create a profile, load a suburb, a price point, and then those listings that get loaded onto the site everyday actually start to come to you instantly. So, you'll be sitting there - I don't know - in a board meeting or on the couch, and a new listing will pop up. And that's a great way to make sure that you never miss out. It's a great way to make sure that you always have your finger on the pulse of that market.

Not missing out definitely is very important. But what about rentals? Because I mean, rentals they go so fast. Do you guys have any special advice for rentals in particular?

It's extremely competitive out there. So, very fast paced in the rental market. Properties come on and within a day they're rented out. In fact, even on Private Property, if we look at all the stats, for every rental property we've got, we've got 50 tenants waiting in line. So it's an unbelievably competitive space, and so being in the front of the queue is absolutely important. We've actually got a cool product or little feature that you can subscribe to, it's called Hot Rentals, and we'll send you an SMS of new rentals that hit your market, the market that you're interested in, an hour before we put them up on the website. So you kind of get a little lead time and you can be first in line.

You also have the fact that you can browse your website, but a lot of the times you look at these properties and they are sold already. How do you deal with that?

It's frustrating. Particularly in rentals, as I said, they move so quickly that sometimes you see ads that are still on the website but the property is gone, and that can be frustrating for browsers and consumers. But we really work hard to clean that off. If you do find properties like that on our website, there's an easy button to just click and report that particular listing and then we'll call up the advertiser, the agent and make sure that it is solved, or it's being rented out, and then we'll remove it from the site. So we try and make that experience as seamless as possible for guys, but invariably you're going to get that stuff where old stock is still there.

What is your tip of the day?

My tip of the day would be: sign up for email and SMS alerts and make sure that those listings find you.

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