In a massive coup for the CENTURY 21 real estate group, Western Cape real estate stalwart Conrad de Swardt is to convert his string of 14 Homenet offices in the region to the international brand.
These offices are located in Bloubergrandt, Tyger Valley and in idyllic coastal and country towns such as Montagu, Roberston and Worcester in the Breederivier area; Barrydale, Bredasdorp, Heidelberg, Struisbaai and Swellendam in the Overberg area and Gansbaai, Hermanus, Kleinmond and Stanford in the Overstrand area.
"This is a very big deal for us and will instantly give us a huge footprint in the Western Cape," says Duncan Gray, CEO of CENTURY 21 in SA. "It is also a major endorsement of what our group has to offer in terms of the international clout that many SA agency owners are now looking for."
De Swardt, who is also one of the most successful developers in the Western Cape, says he has worked hard to assemble a team of highly trained and dedicated agents and that the next step was to seek truly international exposure.
"CENTURY 21 was the ideal choice for us not only because it is the biggest real estate group in the world but because as a relatively new entrant to the SA market it could accommodate all 14 of my offices without there being a clash with any existing CENTURY 21 franchises."
His plans for the future include further expansion of his office network in the Western Cape and continued focus on the markets his offices currently serve, with a view to growing market share. "We are fortunate that even in the current downturn we have managed to grow turnover by 20 percent, and we are confident that we are targeting the right market sectors."
Most buyers at the moment, he says, are those who bought low before the last property boom and are reinvesting quite substantial capital gains made during that boom into their next properties. Also in the market are up-and-coming business people and entrepreneurs that are putting some of their profits into property.
"And we do not expect there to be a revival in the mass market for the next three to five years, during which time slow property price growth will give salaries an opportunity to 'catch up' with the massive increases seen during the boom and new entrants to the market will have learnt to trim their expectations to fit their pockets and tighter credit requirements."
Established 35 years ago, Century 21 currently has more than 8000 offices and 140 000 agents in 67 countries and territories around the world - a formidable global marketing infrastructure that is at the disposal of every client.
The brand was introduced to South Africa two years ago and Gray says the conversion of the 14 Homenet agencies in the Western Cape will bring the number of outlets in the country to around 40.
"As this deal shows, we are expanding steadily, despite the current property market slowdown, and we expect much growth and development of the brand over the next few years as professionally-run agencies increasingly demand world-class training and marketing expertise as well as a truly international network. Our current target is to have around 150 offices in place by 2014."
ISSUED BY CENTURY 21