Almost in the blink of an eye, the world has changed forever, including the way businesses transact – and how we buy and sell homes, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group.
“The global pandemic has had a major impact on the entire planet, firstly from a humanitarian perspective, but also in terms of the way we go about doing business, whether as consumers or corporate or commercial entities.
“From the decision to sell a home to the final transfer to the new owner, a property transaction is multi-dimensional and involves many steps, which require specialised expertise in a number of different disciplines including area knowledge, accurate valuations, pricing strategy, marketing, finance, legal and conveyancing, to name a few.
“What the lockdown has quickly demonstrated is that as a key priority, and without in any way precluding the invaluable expertise and negotiation skills of our agents - who are all currently operating remotely on a decentralised basis, we needed to rapidly re-engineer the real estate transaction process in order to be capable of transacting from a-to-z online.
“In this regard, we are in the advantageous position of already having access to technological capability and knowledge gained through our association and learning experience via Eazi Real Estate which we acquired 18 months ago and, which already offers a user-friendly, seamless and secure, automated online platform, and which services primarily the sub R2 million market.
“As a consequence of these learnings, we are transforming and fine-tuning our paper-based processes into a custom-designed, integrated, and technology-driven online system. This will be combined with all the personal and professional expertise provided by our agents, enabling us to offer the same level of professionalism and skill in an evolving property landscape with increased technology-driven activity.”
Dr Golding says as a result, and given that the lockdown regulations will be lifted gradually - which means that buyers are not yet able to physically visit homes for sale, Pam Golding Properties will soon be able to offer both buyers and sellers all the technological advantages of an online agency coupled with the benefits and scale of a traditional agency.
Of particular importance to homeowners is that this will allow sellers to interact with Pam Golding Properties agents from the first point of contact, verification of the property, client logon and authentication of ID and signing of an exclusive mandate through to an offer and acceptance / negotiation process and ultimately processing of a virtual Agreement of Sale in a secure, digital environment.
Adds Dr Golding: “Due to the lockdown, and as part of the above project, while real estate agents cannot yet view properties for sale in order to provide a valuation, we are also developing an online valuation methodology which combines, among other factors, a range of information including that of industry leader Lightstone, as well as our own market data, the agent’s specialist knowledge of homes sold in the area, coupled with a client report on the condition of the property backed up by detailed visuals – and subject to actual visualisation.
“Moving forward, and given these innovative and rapidly evolving technological advances, we anticipate that the property landscape will in future see buyers undertaking a much more rigorous browsing process preceding one or two physical visits to their preferred properties – the number of which, in their ideal ‘portfolio’, is then drastically reduced.
“This also means that the photographic and virtual experience will need to be significantly enhanced, and here key differentiators which we have incorporated include use of the leading Matterport 3D camera system which creates detailed floor-to-ceiling perspectives which give the viewer the impression of actually being inside the property. We’ve been using this sophisticated model for the past four years, showcasing our best properties with this realistic walk-through with an appreciation of floorplan, space, and other key features of the home.
“Of further benefit to both sellers and buyers is that as part of our fast-tracked digital enhancements, all our enquiries and leads will be tracked, distributed, measured, and monitored in a single online customer relationship management system to ensure timeous, effective responses.”