From listing the property to vetting buyers or tenants and signing the transfer or lease documents, the full digitalization of property transactions has arrived.
Last week Property Professional reported about the growing unease among real estate CEO’s and agents over Property24 expanding their services from portal to broker with their online tenant finding service. However, is what the entity is doing not simply following good business practices?
Over years this leading property portal built up a successful business and is now expanding with online services in response to customer demands in the digital age. Today most services from banking or grocery shopping to buying or selling your home are available online.
So, instead of pointing accusing fingers at Property24 perhaps those fingers should be pointing towards the local real estate sector and ask if they’ve been doing enough to keep up with the changing demands of their clients?
Independent contractor business model
A recent Inman article commented that in the US the independent contractor business model contributed to the dominance of Zillow, a leading online real estate marketplace because brand executives failed to take the necessary steps to provide in the tech needs of working agents. When they (the CEO’s) didn’t provide, others stepped in and filled the void. “Zillow harnessed the power of the internet and delivered tangible value to agents while the legacy industry stood by and let it unfold. Now, Zillow has become the industry’s octopus, its tentacles reaching everywhere.”
Have industry leaders in the South African real estate sector stepped up sufficiently to enable their agents to compete effectively on the digital marketplace? Why is there such a fear among so many estate agents that they will ‘miss out’ if they don’t list on Property24?
Leads, leads, leads
Let’s look at this reliance on the property portal for leads. It is often said by agents that they continue listing with Property24 despite the high subscription cost ‘because they have the most leads’.
While it is true that you find Property24 in the top position with a Google search for almost any town, city or suburb in South Africa, there are others such as Private Property and some of the top brands also ranking under the coveted top 5 search results.
The question estate agents want answered is if they will see enough leads if they don’t list with Property24? Will listing on the other leading portal Private Property and on IOL and on other options such as Facebook Marketplace etc deliver the same results or be better or worse? Not a simple question to answer as in South Africa knowledge of where your target market will search for their dream home is key to a successful listing.
Simplify buying or selling a home
It is a complicated process to buy or sell a home in SA these days. There are lots of legislative by-laws and loopholes that your clients need to be aware off. Is your agency doing enough to make this often-daunting experience safe and easy for your clients?
Benefits of listing on a multiple listing service (MLS)
How did Property24 end up as one of the leading portals in the residential property scene in SA? It is because of the support of thousands of estate agents. To quote from Inman “Any discussion about disruption often focuses on the disrupter, when in fact the disrupted lay the groundwork for transformative change”. The truth is, Property24 or any other property portal for that matter will only continue to succeed in the market space if there is continued support for its’ services. Estate agents and agencies need to sit down and carefully evaluate the value they receive from listing their properties on the various options available – and then choose the service(s) that best meet their needs.
Meeting the demands of the digital age
So many people spend so much of their time on digital devices that it follows logically that most will start their search for a new home online. The pandemic has only strengthened this trend. Also, social distancing will remain a reality for the foreseeable future until the elusive ‘herd immunity’ against the Covid-19 virus is achieved. For estate agents this means they and their listings need strong online visibility.
The top real estate brands can achieve a strong online presence as they have the financial means to do so and even to compete with the leading property portals. However, online visibility presents a challenge for smaller independents with tighter budgets. To compete they need help from a ‘digital big brother’ so it is not surprising that there is continued support for leading property portals like Property24 as it has the consumer brand and the reach.
Following the success of the online service the entity has added a direct online listing service option. The entity is free to do so and the real estate industry is equally free to continue to support them or take their listings elsewhere.
To end with another quote from Inman, “No one is evil in this story. Instead, it is a tale of winners and losers. For the losers, the results are their own doing and the day of reckoning is coming. Is the game over? No, but the industry must act on a new digital mandate and invest in that future. There’s no better time than now”.