Century 21 SA aiming to become trend setter

Mark Beckett , CEO Bond Choice (left) and Duncan Gray, CE of Century 21 SA
Century 21 will make its mark in South Africa within a year, property journalists were assured in a Johannesburg media briefing on May 3.

Duncan Gray, chief executive of the newly launched local master franchise, Century 21 South Africa, is confident that the global brand’s arrival on the local property scene will not only provide new impetus for existing property experts to upgrade skills and services, but also inspire local entrepreneurs to consider getting into real estate.
Backed up by the very latest in real estate technology he forecast the group becoming a South African trend setter in terms of technology, marketing techniques and creating professional skills that matched up to international standards.

“Century 21’s real estate professionals must make selling property as easy as possible. In addition to being honest, this means respecting clients’ time and being efficient and effective. Experience, knowledge and tools are the base. Regular progress reports and discussions will map the way to informed decisions. We will make recommendations to enhance the marketability of properties and provide a competitive market analysis based on international experience and local knowledge. We can also help set realistic listing prices and help formulate customised marketing plans that pinpoint specific promotional tools and techniques for individual properties,” Gray said.

Also high on the brand’s local agenda is helping review finance alternatives with clients (Century 21 South Africa has selected Bond Choice Home Loans as its mortgage originator of choice), explaining local real estate procedures and regulations, assisting with negotiations and monitoring all aspects of a transaction once it is underway.

Despite the fact that Century 21 is actually the last international real estate brand to enter the South African market, it is a world leader that is much larger than its nearest international rival with 144 000 agents and over 8 000 offices in more than 45 countries.

Gray said this provided a number of advantages when it came to educating both estate agents and prospective home owners about the challenges of property investment. Here, he said Century 21 could break new ground in South Africa.

The first example of innovation is the group’s website. The local version, www.century21.co.za, is modelled on and linked, according to Gray, “to the most visited real estate website worldwide” and will be operational by mid-May. Its big brother clocks up about 30 million hits annually with an average stay of 34 minutes – as opposed to three minutes on the closest international competitor’s website.

This website aims to provide the ultimate resource for online buying, selling, finance and even redecorating. Features of www.century21.com, includes listings for a quarter of a million properties, a home notifier that alerts parties as soon as a property that matches particular criteria appears, a listing profile for buyers that ultimately creates a customised marketing plan for their home and even a home plan that allows the layout and redecoration of a room without moving a single piece of furniture.

For Century 21 franchise owners, there are comprehensive on-line training facilities, management, administrative and marketing support. “The first franchises will also be sold at highly competitive prices, substantially less than other major brands and less than a future Century 21 South Africa franchise,” Gray explained.

At present, Gray says major South African real estate franchises can cost between R250 000 and R800 000. “A Century 21 South Africa franchise price will be determined by how big a slice of the real estate pie the individual operator wants. A franchise in Mooi River will be less than a franchise in Umhlanga or Sandton by virtue of the potential market size.”

He added that this price could be even less – if purchased by ‘a Founder.’ This Century 21 marketing concept means that franchises could be offered at a 50 percent discount to the first 21 “Founders” to sign up. Prices could start from as little as R90 000,” Gray said.

Prospective investors are already knocking on the door of Century 21 South Africa and Gray is certain it will meet its target of establishing more than 400 offices countrywide in the next 10 years.
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