The number of estate agents working in the South African estate agency sector has increased by almost 100% in the last four years, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of Rawson Properties.
'This huge increase,' says Rawson, 'reflects the fact that for an investment for the man on the street property has in the five years begin to rival JSE shares and other traditionally 'safe' investment opportunities (eg annuities and pension funds). Never before have we seen so many second, third or fourth home owners or so many people putting money into commercial, industrial and retail properties'
According to Rawson, there are now approximately 72 000 estate agents operating in South Africa, but the regulatory body of the estate agency industry, the Estate Agency Affairs Board, has started to crack down on illegal operators and are also upgrading entry-level qualifications, in order to discourage 'chancers' from joining the property industry.
Three factors have gone a long way in changing the image of the South African estate agent:
- Firstly, an increasing number of people with management or professional qualifications are moving into property selling.
- Secondly, there is now determination at the Estate Agency Affairs Board to introduce a compulsory certificate course for all newcomers to the property industry.
- And thirdly, the popularity of franchises in the estate agency world is growing year by year.
'The advent of franchising,' said Rawson, 'has attracted those with resources and with a track record of prior achievement, to our industry. This type of franchisee has entrepreneurial flair and experience in management. He is not blinded by the chances of making a quick buck and is committed to the long run. This means that he is not 'given it a go' for a year or two, and he is prepared to invest money, time and energy in the business. Furthermore, he realises only too well that to survive he needs to offer a better than average service.
One of the factors that sets todays franchisee and his staff apart from their predecessors is that they appreciate that it is now essential to be computer literate if you wish to be able to communicate effectively with your market and client base and have quick access to marketing information.
'One of the great advantages of buying a franchise from a reputable franchisor,' says Rawson, 'is that good, regularly updated IT systems would usually be included in the deal '“ and these in our experience can make all the difference between survival and real success'
Rawson warned, as he has done before, that property marketing is not an easy way to make a living.
'If you put your whole self into the work this can be a lucrative and satisfying career. Before making the change, it is worth remembering that less than 20% of agents are responsible for making 80% of the sales and there are large numbers of agents of who dont last longer than two years.