Big SA contingent now at NAR convention


Last week some 26,000 estate agents from all over the world are gathering in New Orleans, USA, for the annual convention of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) - and South Africans will be interested to know that just on 1% (260) of those present will be from this country.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George HW Bush was the keynote speakers at the General Session on Saturday.
Bill Rawson, Chairman of Rawson Properties, will be attending for the fourth time and will have with him seven senior men from his group.

'We find,' said Rawson, 'that we cannot really afford to miss this convention. The US has taken the lead in property development and marketing - and there is a great deal to be learned from them'

Rawson said that he would be paying particular attention to the USs in-house training systems (mostly computer-related) which under NAR leadership have now reached new heights of efficiency.

He would, he added, be looking especially at three aspects of the US operation: their prohibition on direct canvassing by post, telephone, email or other means, their willingness to outsource work and their reaction to adverse market conditions.

'In the US the recipient of any advertising or marketing material has now to request it or agree to receive it. This affords a high degree of privacy and it seems likely that South Africa will have to follow the same system. However, as a corollary to this, the newsletters and other material sent out are exceptionally good and usually very welcome'

In outsourcing the US has again taken a noticeable lead: estate agencies there, said Rawson, use external operators for research, the compilation of training programmes and even for their journalistic and advertising work. By using operators in other time zones and less affluent countries they can speed up production and cut costs.

The third aspect he will study, said Rawson, is how the US residential property market has coped with the drop-off that followed the boom.

'A 4% interest rate rise has for the US been a real (though highly necessary) discipline - but as yet the number of insolvencies and breakdowns has been limited and US agents are teaching us that in certain areas they are doing as well as ever.

'I will be interested to see the bigger picture because in South Africa, which lags behind the US by about a year, is undergoing a similar corrective period '“ and I will be looking carefully at the effects of over-investing and the steps taken by financiers to help those who have run into problems. Some really innovative rescue measures have, I am told, be put in place'

At this NAR convention the new president of the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa, Willie Marais, will sign the bilateral association agreement between the NAR and the SA Institute. Rawson has said previously that this will help South African agents to achieve higher levels of competence and professionalism.
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