As new technologies and improved systems are perpetually introduced into our modern business environments, innovations in client communication is undoubtedly at the forefront of this rapid evolution. The real estate industry has experienced a flurry of new concepts and advancements in the past year especially with regards to agents having to incorporate real time communication tools into their daily practices.
We're seeing an increased demand by clients to communicate with our agents and staff in real time which has resulted in a growing expectancy for instant feedback. This means that phone communication applications, such as WhatsApp, are fast becoming the primary communication tool for clients.
So too, these applications have become part and parcel of the marketing process as many sellers and landlords expect the agent to harness their database to effectively market the clients property to an instantaneous audience, and rightly so. There are agencies in the UK who credit almost eighty percent of their deals now being finalised through WhatsApp and other social media communication platforms.
The integration and feeding of saved contacts and social media connections to a singular mobile device has propelled client service into the spotlight and the necessity for agents to be trained and educated on continuous feedback and prompt customer service.
Many of our agents are now introducing WhatsApp marketing plans into their mandate strategies. There are without a doubt many advantages to these applications these applications. They are very user friendly when sending media such as videos, photographs and embedded links to inquiring clients, which make them perfect for real estate communication. The WhatsApp status for instance allows agents to market homes to a growing mobile database without contacting prospective buyers individually. This strategy is becoming very popular on multiple platforms as a subtle non-invasive arm of a real estate marketing plan.
With WhatsApp being owned by Facebook and Instagram it is no wonder this tool has the ability to cross pollinate communication and diversify it into a multi pronged communication force.
It certainly is exciting times and at Harcourts we embrace innovation, especially when it benefits our clients. Our marketing plans are always evolving to include new digital strategies to ensure our clients needs are met and that we are effective in implementing our strategies.
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer
25 July 2019
President's SONA inspires but lacks detail
President Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address in Parliament yesterday and outlined seven priorities and five goals whilst acknowledging that due to financial constraints government would not be able to deliver “everything at one time”. In the real estate sector, the economy has played a major role in activity and commitment and we're excited that the President is prioritising economic growth and hope for strategic and continued implementation.
Overall there was a positive sentiment in the President's remarks and we applaud his vision of modern, high tech cities with world-leading public transport and believe we should all get behind the vision to make it happen. The President said that he wants to reduce data costs and that to be internationally competitive, the high cost of doing business and complicated and lengthy regulatory processes must be addressed in South Africa and that new companies should be able to be registered within a day.
It is crucial South Africa leads the way on the continent for innovation in business and technology in order for us to improve growth and long term sustainability. The President implored everyone to buy local products to boost local production. The President said that within the next year, the government hopes to conclude agreements with retailers to stock more South African goods on their shelves to actively promote South African products.
The attention the President paid to the economy and our crisis among youth unemployment, which is now at 50%, was a breath of fresh air as acknowledging our problems is imperative when trying to alleviate them.
There were certainly pertinent issues we wanted the President to detail but he failed to do so, especially on the land issue. It seemed that state-owned land would be targeted first. Ramaphosa explained that the state will accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements and farming. Explaining that the panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme.
We expect more clarity on the recent report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, which will now be presented to Cabinet for consideration.
It is interesting that he was clear that it is not just farmland, but the need to ensure that land in urban areas is also made available. The President believes while the government have made great progress in providing housing, many South Africans still need land to build homes and earn livelihoods. In the next five years, he plans to accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans.
The President's plans cannot be faulted and his plans are inspiring, we just hope he is able to implement these strategies effectively and take our country forward.
From a global perspective auctions have for long been synonymous with the property market, however the local property industry has only really embraced this activity in the past few years. And now it is one of the fastest growing sections in our industry. “The modern business environment has certainly played a major part in perpetuating the increased demand for auctions. We’re finding many consumers are becoming more accustomed to that style of purchase behaviour due to the rapid rise of local and international auction-based retail sites,” explains Harcourts South Africa's CEO Richard Gray.
Rudo Kirsten Auctioneer at Harcourts Midrand admits that they’ve experienced an increase in queries from sellers regarding their auction options. “We are seeing quite a lot of new interested sellers and buyers entering the ever-expanding Midrand market.”
The advantage for many sellers and buyers is that auctions provide them with an opportunity to attain value, and that is often the priority, he says.
Midrand offers buyers a wide variety of property options, from beautiful first-time buyer apartments to large family homes, farms on the outskirts and great ROI commercial properties.
The other advantage of Midrand, he says, is that it is centrally located and very close to the Gautrain line which makes it convenient for anyone traveling in and around Gauteng.
Kirsten says convenience and time can often be a factor for a seller and a property auction, when implemented effectively and professionally, can be a great method to achieve a fair market value within an allocated time.
By restricting the time for the sale of a property, as is the case with auctions, there is a sense of urgency among interested buyers and often the agency will prioritise your auction property for the same reason.
“At Harcourts, we have developed world-class auction solutions that have been implemented by our global and local offices for many years. We have auction marketing down to a fine art and consider ourselves specialists in this field,” says Gray.
Gray adds that the trend will continue to increase and Harcourts predicts that auctions is going to be one of the primary selling and buying methods of property in Midrand in the coming years.
Despite the industry experiencing a decline in year on year sales, March 2019 was Harcourts South Africa's best month since Harcourts started in South Africa in 2009. Boasting 10% growth on the same month last year. In addition, Harcourts South Africa's first quarter was up 11% on the same period in 2018.
What's so impressive about this growth is that it is happening on a national level with positive results from all regions.
Also, what needs to be taken into consideration is South Africa's economy has been under pressure in the past 18 months with consumers having to face volatile market fluctuations caused by unpredictable cyclical trends. Harcourts South Africa growth shows that the property market will remain active even in a decline and that investing in property is still a primary long term investment path for most.
There are many reasons to explain Harcourts' success locally. Being a part of the impressive International Harcourts group, with more than 900 offices globally supported by almost 6600 sales consultants, the extensive global support structure ensures greater regional market penetrations.
Harcourts takes a values-based approach to real estate and they are guided by a set of values that dictate how agents and offices approach the industry. It is intrinsic to their ongoing success as Harcourts people live their values. In an ever-evolving real estate environment, it is imperative that client priority service based attitudes are instilled in business strategies.
The market is certainly changing before our very eyes and we have to ensure we stay ahead of the game whilst maintaining a clear focus on service.
Harcourts has invested in the development of cutting edge systems, property consultants have the full range of marketing, research and technological tools available to them at all times. Working within a tightly-knit and highly-motivated team environment, the business, customer support and online services which they can draw upon are very impressive. This undoubtedly influences the success rate of our business and ensures clients reap the benefits.
Successfully buying and selling real estate is mostly about fulfilling people's needs and aspirations. Harcourts agents are committed to building meaningful and genuine personal relationships with their clients.
Harcourts continues to take the local real estate market by storm and if our growth and success continue on this exciting growth curve there are certainly exciting times ahead.
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer