Not too long ago, I practised as an attorney during the first effects of the global recession on economies around the world.
As most would know, we weren’t spared the fate of a collapsing property market and the copious amounts of houses for sale as people awoke from the hangover of being property moguls.
At that stage, most upper middle class to upper class incomes in South Africa owned at least two properties, one of which was usually vacant land in yet another overzealous and cigarette box conceived development that was built “in the tranquillity of nature” or on “the next Fancourt”.
The eventuality of all of this was fully bank owned farms on any bit of land conceivable, with battered and torn “for sale” and “on auction” signs.
Now, the advantages of practising law is the following; there is always some hype that makes money, or becomes your greatest earner; when times are good, property transfers, bond registrations/cancellations is the name of the game.
When times are bad, sequestrations and liquidations do the trick, normally with a property transfer to follow anyway.
At the risk of sounding insensitive to clients falling in the latter group, I have to state that the band wagon during tough times was quite a spectacle.
So many people were making their “cut” in the deal!
Out of work estate agents would kill to get their hands on auction lists for bank repossessed properties.
Cash is, and was king during these deals as well, as Curators, Liquidators, Auctioneers, Attorneys and Advocates all formed part of the production line that is someone else’s misery.
Recently, Auction Alliance CEO Rael Levitt was fingered in a range of auction “scandals” such as kickbacks, price inflation and believe me, in some cases the misuse of inside information. You’ll note that I used inverted commas for the word "scandals", and the simple reason therefore is this:
All of this, is standard practice in the industry, and is definitely not regarded as scandalous to anyone operating therein.
Currently, I don’t practise anymore, and have found solace in using my legal knowledge and experience in business rather.
Although I have the worlds respect for the legal industry and have a passion for law, I wasn’t happy doing it, and I only realised it after my departure.
Recently, my fiancé and me have been browsing for houses and I once again found myself in the mercy of estate agents.
I have to say, not all of them are bad, which made me wonder everyones opinion on them in the first place...
The conclusion I reached was that every jobless salesman became an estate agent during the late 90’s and early to middle 2000’s, because of the property boom.
When the market corrected itself after 2006, only the "real" agents remained as the rootless weeds were washed away, and the mushroom phenomenon in agencies faded with the current property drought.
The property market seems to have been pretty much corrected as well, as the highly inflated prices on residential, which in turn became bargains of the decade, seems to have calmed down, possibly due to agents advising sellers correctly for the first time in years.
Be that as it may, it’s great to have some sense back in a market that’s been as erratic and crazy as Julius’s slurs, and to actually be in a position to negotiate sensibly, with sensible people.