Hunt Down Those Bargains

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

We all hear about those people who closed the property deal of a lifetime, but for most of us, bargain-priced discoveries remain fairly elusive. Interestingly, an Internet search conducted recently highlighted a number of properties going for a song in the US and it didn't take long to find really great looking properties selling at really ridiculously low prices. Although it would be fairly safe to say that South Africans didn’t feel the effects of the 2008 financial crisis as keenly as did their US counterparts and that the market has recovered fairly well in the interim, there are still a number of 'good buys' around.

Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group, recently stated that the residential property market can still offer investment buyers bargains at anything from 20 to 50 percent below market value. He warned however that hunting down the right property now takes more time and effort than before.

"In the old days," said Rawson, "to keep tabs on the market, all one had to do was to read the newspaper advertisements diligently. Today, finding a bargain calls for being open to other channels.

"Many estate agents today advertise relatively seldom in the printed media and rely largely on Internet exposure - and some hardly advertise at all. Many of the top level performers in the estate agency world are, first and foremost, one-on-one relationship operators. They work, primarily and highly effectively, through personal contact with a comprehensive list of clients that they have gotten to know through the years and with whom they have built a mutual understanding."

Building professional relationships is vital for anyone in business and let's face it, buying a home is just that, business. Even those who buy a property for their own personal use should be utilising the services of someone they trust and who they know will go all out to find them the right property, at the right price.

So how do you go about finding the right kind of agent to start bonding with? Agents should always be interviewed to determine whether or not they are up to the task. Personal taste also plays a huge role. For instance, if you don't like dealing with pushy people, avoid the overzealous estate agent. If you enjoy working with people who know their stuff, ask about their qualifications. If the agent that you eventually decide to work with turns out to be inefficient, move on and find someone who can produce the goods.

It does however, go further than that. Rawson noted that any investor looking for an inside track to good buys should make it his business to keep in touch with the top performing agents serving the areas in which they are interested. "This may mean having to view a number of unsuitable properties, but the 'nuggets' will be there."

He also advises investors to keep an eye on relevant property websites and to take a look at any property which appears to offer good value. "In addition, investors should try to build up relationships with banks and liquidators: the number of repossessed and distressed properties on the market, although not as high as it has been recently, is still significant and these properties can often still be bought at prices that may well seem almost ludicrous two years from now."

This type of innovative, independent action, added Rawson, has become all the more essential today because estate agents are now putting fewer homes up for open house show days. Sitting back and waiting for the bargain of a lifetime to fall into your lap is probably going to end in failure. Getting out there, dealing with the right people and doing your homework may well put you on the path to if not great wealth, then at least to a well-priced property that will continue to grow in value over the years. What on earth are you waiting for?

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