Trevor Sturgess, an agent with Century 21 who, along with his wife Ruth, works at the Glenvista office, secured a mandate to sell a virtually derelict property in Liefde en Vrede in Johannesburg South. Realising he would never sell the property in its current state; he approached his principal, Neels Potgieter, explained the situation and asked for a loan. Once the financing was in place, he set about transforming what he termed his “Paris Hilton” project. It seems that Trevor, a former stand-up comedian, realised that some models look a bit run down without the benefit of make-up and took it upon himself to transform the ugly duckling property into a swan.
“The house was never fully completed and over time became badly neglected,” says Trevor. “The roof leaked and the walls and the floors had become black with moss.
“Regardless, once I received the mandate, I put the property on show at a bargain basement price. Despite this, buyers couldn’t see beyond the rot and no offers were forthcoming. It was then that I decided to show people what the property really had to offer.”
Trevor set to work, determined to show the property to its full potential. He bought paint and brushes and enlisted the help of a company which specialised in cleaning and renovating properties. The people involved loved the idea and agreed to postpone their fee until the property had been sold.
It took Trevor two full days paint the exterior. “Once completed, the house came alive,” he said. “It is situated in a prominent street and in its dilapidated state, stuck out like a sore thumb. The moment I started painting, people in the neighbourhood began showing interest. I certainly didn’t look like a professional Century 21 agent while I was busy. However, this didn’t seem to deter locals from stopping and asking about the property.”
Once the exterior was complete, the hard working agent and the renovators started to perform their magic on the interior. It took them five days to get the inside of the property into a habitable state.
The house went back on show the following week. By this stage, news of the project had spread and had caught the imagination of the entire neighbourhood. “The response was amazing,” says Trevor. “On the first show day we had 15 clients walk through the doors and by Monday night, I had six offers.”
Trevor says this project has taught him several valuable lessons. “Clients always say they have vision, but many don’t. If a property is run down, more often than not they will overlook the potential, regardless of the price. A clean, well presented house will sell far more quickly - and for more money. The fact that I was willing to put in the time, a little money and a bit of effort cleaning up this property really paid off. I have befriended numerous potential clients in the neighbourhood who now understand my passion for property and have already indicated that they will be contacting me when they put their homes on the market.”
Perhaps fuelled by the positive response he received from his “Paris Hilton” project, Trevor recently purchased a bicycle and now dedicates part of his day to cycling around and meeting people in Kibler Park and Walkerville, the areas in which he now specialises. In his opinion there is no such thing as a part-time agent and as such, believes that anyone who is serious about selling property needs to get out there and start talking to the man on the street.
Trevor and Ruth’s determination to be a success in the industry appears to have paid off. Both were invited to attend a Century 21 awards ceremony held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe at the end of 2011 where Ruth received an award for the number of sales that she had concluded during the course of the year.
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