Private Property was started in a garage in 1998, with the objective of helping private
sellers to sell their own homes privately by advertising their properties on the Internet.
The main premise was to cut out the middleman by allowing the buyer and seller
to interact directly with one another, thereby saving the seller thousands of
rands in estate agent's commission. Private Property became synonymous with 'no
commission' and the idea began to attract more and more interest. Sellers
realised that they could pay a small once-off listing fee, do some of the work
of selling their homes themselves, and save loads of money.
Today, sellers using the Private Property system pay a listing fee of between
R1000 and R3200, depending on the value of their property. Private Property has
the busiest property website in South Africa with over 400 000 user sessions and
6.5 million page impressions per month. For someone who is considering selling
their home, this means that Private Property provides a very effective vehicle
for marketing your property. The real key is the database of over 160 000
registered buyers who are actively looking for property. These buyers have
search profiles and have signed up to receive alerts of new property listings
that match their search criteria.
Recently Private Property invited a mixed group of people who had successfully
sold their homes through Private Property to a 'Think Tank' evening. "We wanted
to get feedback from buyers on their perceptions of our business and services,"
said Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke. "We were really pleased to get very positive
feedback on the whole, but the one question that everyone is still asking is
'what's the catch?' - people still said they felt it was too good to be true
even though they had gone through the process of buying their properties and
getting a bond through us."
'What's the catch?' has been a question that gets asked over and over again
usually followed by 'how do you make your money?' "We realised that perhaps this
could still be a concern to some people who are selling their homes and are for
the first time considering the non-traditional alternative of selling privately.
Most people would rather save the around 6% in commission that is normally
charged by an estate agent, but if they think that it is 'too good to be true'
they might still use an agent just because it seems safer and more familiar,"
The answer is that there is absolutely NO CATCH. Sellers pay only the once-off
advertising fee to list their property on Private Property's website. The
service includes much more than just the web listing. It starts when a Property
Consultant visits you at your home. The Consultant explains the whole process to
you, gives you a For Sale Board and On Show boards, and answers your questions.
Then they will take exterior and interior photographs and write a detailed
description. The website listing will go live on the Internet within 24 hours
and matching buyers in the database will be sent SMS and email notifications.
Your property will also appear in one issue of the Private Property Magazine and
Private Property also advertises in local newspapers, on radio, flyers, etc.
Although Private Property Consultants are not estate agents, almost all of them
have passed the Estate Agents Affairs Board Exam, so they will be able to 'hold
your hand' through the entire process. When you put your house on show, your
Consultant will assist and explain what you need to do, as well as send out show
day notifications to matching buyers.
So, by now you may also be wondering why sellers get so much for such a small
fee. The answer is that Private Property earns substantial income from
advertisers who advertise on the website and in the Private Property Magazine.
Private Property also assists buyers in securing home loan finance through any
of the four major banks. This service is free and convenient for the buyer and
has the added advantage of giving the seller the peace of mind that the buyer
does in fact qualify for the loan, thereby avoiding any unnecessary delays.
Although not every buyer does their home loan finance through Private Property,
many do choose to because it is quick and easy and relieves them of the hassle
of having to go about finding out how to apply themselves. Some income is earned
from providing this service, but it doesn't cost the buyer or seller a cent.
Private Property's vision is to be 'the people's champion' and although this
might sound simplistic, the company continues to strive to provide a
professional service to both sellers and buyers of property - there is no catch,
no middleman and no commission.