Estate agency innovation brings rich rewards

Tough conditions in the property market over past year has not prevented a Homenet office in the Helderberg basin from increasing its revenue by a whopping 40 percent.

Steve Caradoc-Davies, principal of Homenet Platinum in Somerset West, attributes this feat to an innovative way of selling property. "In our experience sellers seldom, if ever, have much say in how their property will be marketed or which selling methods will be used. Giving sellers that choice has given us the edge in the past year," he says.

"Our offering is summed up in just three words - choice, trust and service.

"Sellers can choose their advertising package and method of selling, either based on commission or on our 'Platinum Plus' flat fee of R59 950 plus VAT, which is paid only on transfer.

"Secondly, we build trust by consulting our clients throughout the selling process. We share market information and facts to help them make decisions that are in their best interest.

"And we guarantee our service with our unique money-back guarantee. It's easy to make promises, but we guarantee it in writing - if we fail, we pay. However, in the four years since we instituted this guarantee, we have not had to pay once, a statistic I'm proud of."

Homenet Platinum also uses innovative real estate technology. "We have put the iWON system through its paces for three years and on the strength of our success it has now been adopted by the entire Homenet group," Caradoc-Davies says.

The system allows real estate offices to track all activity related to listings and provides instant communication with buyers and sellers. At the moment there are more than 400 registered buyers and sellers on Homenet Platinum's system and they get cross-matched to all their listings.

Caradoc-Davies says the property market is expected to remain tough this year. "Economists forecast a difficult year. However interest rates are expected to level off and start dropping towards the end of the year and the market is expected to enjoy some relief in 2009 with a fairly healthy outlook for 2009 and 2010."

But, says Caradoc-Davies, Homenet Platinum in Somerset West has shown that, despite a tough market, properties still sell when innovative selling and marketing methods are used and when sellers adapt to changing market conditions.
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