RE/MAX Italia regional director visits South Africa

RE/MAX of Southern Africa, one of the country’s leading real estate groups, celebrated its top achievers at its national convention held at Sun City. Among the line-up of top speakers was Dario Castiglia, the regional director and owner of RE/MAX Italia, who delivered some key insights on competing successfully in today’s property market to more than 700 RE/MAX of Southern Africa delegates.

After starting his real estate career in Canada before acquiring the franchise rights and operating the RE/MAX franchise in Italy successfully for over 15 years, Castiglia has a wealth of insight into the inner-workings of the property business. While the geographical locations may be worlds apart, the principles of dealing with buyers and sellers remain the same across the globe.
Castiglia provided an informative comparison between the Italian and South African property markets, highlighting some of the challenges the Italian property professionals face. On the top of his list was that Italy has a limited multiple listing service and that there is very little co-operation between estate agents from different companies. In addition he said that most listings are open or verbal listings. Aside from the fact that only 50% of all property sales are handled by a professional agent and that agents struggle with a lack of data and information relating to property sales, RE/MAX Italia has made its mark.

In total, Italy is home to more than 40 000 real estate offices of which only 4 500 are franchised. RE/MAX Italia has more than 180 offices across the country and has shown phenomenal growth since its inception despite challenging market conditions. Of the 80 000 agents operating nationally, around 1 400 are RE/MAX agents.

“The Italian property market is very competitive,” said Castiglia. “There are more estate agents entering the market despite the downturn in sales, and many of these agents are not professionally licensed. However in tough times, buyers and sellers tend to turn to the professionals who have the right tools to effectively broker a property transaction.”

The average house price in Italy is at around the €200 000 mark, and as much as 85% of the Italian population own property.  Castiglia noted that in 1995 around 500 000 residential property sales took place, which shot up to 850 000 in 2007 during the boom. The figure dropped back down to the 570 000 mark last year at the tail end of the recession.

“Last year was the worst in Italian history, but RE/MAX Italia has still managed to outperform other agents in the same market place. The difference is that all RE/MAX agents are in business for themselves, not by themselves. This is a business for entrepreneurs who can budget, create a business plan and work on the business, not just in the business,” said Castiglia.

Peter Gilmour, Chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, said that locally RE/MAX agents had been outperforming their competition too. “RE/MAX of Southern Africa had a strong sales growth during 2011 of about 32%. As its agent and office numbers continue to grow, RE/MAX of Southern Africa agents account for approximately 5% of all agents currently operating in the local market place. Once again during 2011, RE/MAX agents were responsible for more than 15% of all residential transactions that took place which shows that RE/MAX agents continue to outsell their competitors by 3-1.”

Castiglia pointed out the importance of perseverance, hard work, positive attitude and building and fostering relationships in the real estate business. “The more you learn, the more you earn – don’t underestimate the power of knowledge and the role it plays in attracting clients. The worst enemy of great is good. Life is too short to aim for less than excellence,” Castiglia concluded.

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