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Low cost estate agents revolutionising property market

19 May 2014, 11:13

With rising fuel costs, food costs, bank costs and other increasing financial pressures putting consumers in a price pinch saving money is perogrative.

Purchasing a home is the single biggest investment most of us will make, and losing money on this deal is not an advanatageous scenario.

That is why companies like Steeple, South Africa’s leading low cost estate agency, has taken the South African property market by storm.

The question needs to be begged; why would one choose a low cost estate agent - where the seller shows potential buyers around instead of an agent - rather than a traditional estate agent?

Well for one low cost estate agents have far lower fees. Steeple has a commission of 1.5% compared to the 5-7% + VAT charged by traditional estate agents. On a R1.5m house, for example, Steeple's commission would be R22 500 whereas a traditional agent could charge between R85 000 and R120 000 including VAT.

Unbiased valuation. Low cost estate agents prefer to offer a transparent service and work with the seller to finalise the selling price.  Steeple, for example, provides the seller with a comparative market analysis which shows the recent sales in the area so that the seller can see the actual selling prices achieved.  The seller is also free to canvass the opinions of other agents or their bank.

Low cost agents, on the other hand, usually work with open mandates and therefore are focused on setting a price at which that the property will attract buyers, rather than a price that will persuade the seller to sign a sole mandate!

In SA there are no buyer's agents, only seller's agents, so if you approach an agent about your requirements you are only ever going to shown houses that that agent has a mandate for.  Hence, it makes more sense in SA to look on the property portals where all the properties are listed.

Greater online marketing. These days, the majority of buyers search online for properties and that is where a property needs maximum exposure.  Unlike many traditional agents, a low cost agent will focus on online marketing and typically their internet marketing reach would be broader.  The more people that see a property, the more potential buyers there will be and this increases the chances of concluding a sale.

Superior customer service. Low cost agents operate from a centralised office and can respond immediately to viewing requests from buyers, or to queries from sellers.  Buyers need quick responses or will lose interest.  In the traditional model, buyers and sellers have to communicate with an agent who is invariably on the road and can't respond immediately or record the request.

Convenience. With the low cost model, the seller is able to schedule viewing appointments at times that are convenient, rather than be at the mercy of an agent's diary.

In essence, the low cost estate agency model is akin to the low cost airline model. The focus is on providing the critical service/s at the lowest possible cost.  In the 21st Century, people are no longer prepared to pay extra for the luxury of an outdated business model.

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