Mil­lenials seek­ing changes from the in­dus­try

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY - BONNY FOURIE

DIS­RUP­TION and evo­lu­tion are two words in­creas­ingly used in in­dus­tries in­ter­na­tion­ally as dig­i­tal and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments af­fect tra­di­tional ways of do­ing al­most ev­ery­thing.

The prop­erty in­dus­try is not ex­empt and needs to find new ways to meet the chal­lenges of on­line prop­erty por­tals and lower-com­mis­sion chal­lengers.

But pos­si­bly the big­gest threat it faces is meet­ing the needs of a greatly changed buyer de­mo­graphic.

“Mil­len­ni­als are en­ter­ing the prop­erty mar­ket and their needs are dif­fer­ent from what we are used to,” says Paul Stevens, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Just Prop­erty.

“Buy­ing a prop­erty is a mile­stone, and the mes­sage of com­pe­tence and re­as­sur­ance they need to re­ceive from in­dus­try play­ers needs to be care­fully crafted.”

Even though there is much talk of this gen­er­a­tion of buy­ers need­ing to op­er­ate on­line, they “are still hu­mans who need human guid­ance”, says Stevens.

“We need to be present on­line and on so­cial me­dia – in the right, per­sonal way – to en­sure that they want to en­gage with us in the real world, and we need to pro­vide value they can’t find any­where else.”

This is not just a chal­lenge for South African prop­erty pro­fes­sion­als, but is a dis­rup­tion for the global in­dus­try.

Amer­ica’s Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­al­tors says one con­sis­tent find­ing over the past four years has been that buy­ers aged 36 and younger – mil­len­ni­als or Gen­er­a­tion Yers – make up the largest share of home buy­ers.

But they are not the only buyer group chang­ing the way they look for homes.

The US as­so­ci­a­tion’s 2017 Home Buy­ers and Sell­ers Gen­er­a­tional Trends Re­port finds that, among nearly all gen­er­a­tions of home buy­ers, the first step is to look for prop­er­ties on­line. And thanks to in­ter­net home searches, buy­ers usu­ally “walk” through homes they view on­line.

Lo­cal statis­tics re­veal that nine out of ev­ery 10 prospec­tive home buy­ers will look to the in­ter­net be­fore us­ing any other type of re­source, says Adrian Goslett, re­gional di­rec­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Re/Max of South­ern Africa.

“Po­ten­tial buy­ers are choos­ing the in­ter­net as the re­source of choice be­cause of its con­ve­nience. Users can ac­cess mas­sive vol­umes of in­for­ma­tion at the click of a but­ton with­out leav­ing the com­fort of their home or of­fice.”

The in­ter­net and the growth of so­cial me­dia al­low es­tate agents to ad­ver­tise a listed prop­erty within min­utes of ac­quir­ing a sole man­date and to tar­get ad­ver­tis­ers more ef­fec­tively, says Mike Gre­eff, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Gre­eff Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate.

But buy­ers still want the per­sonal touch. Gre­eff says: “While there are changes, the fact is many buy­ers con­tinue to seek the per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion with an es­tate agent.

“The most re­cent PropS­tats bear me out; they re­veal that while 55% of buy­ers across the Cape Penin­sula found their prop­erty on­line, the re­main­ing 45% – a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber – found the prop­erty by other means, which in­clude show houses, re­fer­rals and be­ing con­tacted di­rectly by es­tate agents.”

And Gre­eff says us­ing the in­ter­net to find prop­erty is patchy across the penin­sula, no­tably on the At­lantic seaboard where, ac­cord­ing to PropS­tats, 80% of buy­ers sourced their prop­er­ties other than on­line.

“In the Con­stan­tia sub­urbs, as many as 64% of buy­ers found their prop­erty off­line.

“No­tably, 20% sourced the prop­erty by be­ing ex­ist­ing clients… And 31.5% of buy­ers bought a house they had first seen on show.” Gre­eff says in Hout Bay 65% of buy­ers seek per­sonal con­tact with an agent. Here up to 47% were ex­ist­ing clients, so had heard about the prop­erty di­rectly from an es­tate agent.

“In the south­ern sub­urbs, the stats show that 58% buy­ers pre­fer sourc­ing their prop­er­ties off­line and 27% bought a home af­ter an agent in­tro­duced them to it.”

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