When it comes to property, regardless of whether you’re buying, selling or renting, there is one person that will always be involved in the process; for buyers and renters, they are usually the first person you call, their knowledge and expertise often judged by the success of your property search, that person is, of course, the estate agent.
For many, the concept of selling properties for a living can be somewhat daunting as you’re only ever considered as good as your last sale. However, behind the murkiness of a commission-driven system, lies a job that many fail to understand.
To learn more about life as a real estate agent, and the South African property sector, Residential People News’ Editor, Dominic Gabriel spoke with one of Pam Golding’s top agents and area specialist in Morningside Johannesburg, Palesa Kibiego (pictured)
Residential People: What attracted you to work in real estate?
- Palesa Kibiego: The realisation that I truly loved working with, and helping people. Real estate is as much about people as it is about property. It was also the idea of running my own business within a bigger business, and the flexibility that comes with that.
RP: How did you get into the real estate industry and what tips would you have for those looking to follow in your footsteps?
- PK: After five years in the corporate sphere, I needed a change. I wanted to find a place where I could work with people while earning an income. Real estate was my first choice, and so the journey began.
While still in the corporate sector, I took leave and attended a course at the Pam Golding Properties Training Academy. I excelled and made an impression on the trainer who put in a good word with the then Hyde Park area manager, Jonathan Tagg to set up an interview for me.In 2005, I started working as a Pam Golding Properties agent at the Fourways office, moving to Hyde Park in 2015 where I have since focused on selling sectional title properties in Morningside Johannesburg.
To be an estate agent one needs to work hard, and it requires dedication and learning all the time, especially if you get recognised as one of the top agents in a competitive environment. The job also requires a strong willingness to listen, as well as the ability to give constant feedback to clients.
RP: What are the challenges you faced when looking to enter into real estate?
- PK: Real estate is a full-time job which requires dedication, and in order to really succeed, one must have a real love for the work.
Although you are working for yourself and you are able to manage your own time, it will often involve being on the job for seven days a week. In addition, you will need at least six to eight months, or even up to a years’ worth of savings, in order to survive financially. Not having enough money to sustain me during quiet months has been a particular challenge.
RP: You mentioned that you will need “at least six to eight months, or even up to a years’ worth of savings, in order to survive financially” when entering real estate. What do you think could be done by the sector to minimise the financial burden placed upon agents?
- PK: This is an interesting question in light of the recent suggestions of paying a basic salary to new entrants into this field.
The first suggestion would be to reduce the length of time for transfers because at the moment it takes about two to three months for a property transfer to register and agents have to wait for that in order to get paid. (In Rwanda it takes about a week excluding the bond processes.)
The second suggestion for real estate agencies is to “force” agents to put aside a set amount of 10%-15% of their commissions by deducting it and putting it into some sort of savings so that this money can be paid out to the agent in the quiet times of no or low earnings.
RP: For foreigners looking to invest in South Africa, what advice would you give?
- PK: Buy now as prices have come down, and also take a long-term view, waiting for at least seven or more years before thinking of selling again.
RP: What are the top 3 common mistakes buyers & sellers make when buying/selling a property?
- PK: Sellers – (1) Don’t just use an agent because they charge the lowest fees. Make your decision based on professionalism and experience.
(2) Don’t mix business with pleasure – when it comes to selling don’t use an agent because they are a friend because things will always get tricky.
(3) Selling an empty house with no furniture – try to sell before you have to move out if possible as this allows buyers to see the property while it is still lived in. Empty spaces sell for less because most people can’t visualise the layout of an empty space.
Buyers – there is no perfect modern property – be willing to buy a property that offers you at least 60% – 75% of what you are looking for in terms of finishes and then be willing to renovate according to your own taste because it’s cheaper and fun to create your own space.
RP: Given the socio-political issues in the country at the moment, how has this impacted the
real estate sector and your job?
- PK: Sales volumes have declined and this has adversely affected my income. However, one carries on because people will always buy property no matter what is happening in the market, activity has once again returned to the market. One just has to work harder with both buyers and sellers in order to sell a property in a tough market. More patience and tenacity is required to get that deal.