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Does using data help to sell your home faster?

barcoded buyers and sellers, analytics resize

Consumers today are exposed to more information in a day than the caveman was his entire lifetime. And more is known about your wants, needs, online activities and spending habits than you may even care to think about.

The fact is, you leave a data trail wherever you go and – despite how you may feel about this – it can benefit you. Companies such as Google and Facebook have a pretty good picture about who you are and what it is that is important to you: If you’re getting married soon, you’ll probably post it on Facebook and change your relationship status to engaged. Facebook will expose you to wedding-related media and you’ll start engaging with it. As soon as you’ve taken the “bait”, you will be exposed to more on the same topic.

Likewise, your search activities on Google means Google can expose adverts relevant to you on the websites that carry Google advertising. It’s marketing genius, really.

The same can be applied when buying and selling homes: Facebook and Google advertising exposes property for sale to users who demonstrate an interest in real estate or who have searched “property for sale”.

What modern-age buyers wanthome on a platter modern buyers

But just how effective is this form of advertising in firstly exposing a property for sale to a possible buyer, and being the effective cause of sale? No one is quite sure, yet.

Perhaps a better question is: Has data become as relevant to consumers as it has advertisers? Simply, is available data about suburb buying and selling trends, property price movements, suburb demographics, flood and fire risk, as well as seismic activity relevant to buyers?

If it is, then why do the vast majority of property listings still look and feel the same as they did when online property portals became mainstream a decade ago?

The typical for sale listing is comprised of the asking price, property type and features, location and a brief or exhaustive description of what makes the home special.

When was the last time you read a data-driven property description? Probably never.

We’re not saying scrap the description altogether; maybe just consider incorporating stats and trends that may be relevant to a buyer.

Putting it into practicepractice soccer player

For example, your agent needs to market and sell your R4m home in Bryanston, Johannesburg. If he’s an agent worth his salt, he will download a Lightstone report on your home’s address and conduct a comparative market analysis to guide you to a market-related listing price that will not scare away potential buyers.

The Lightstone report will provide the agent with your property’s details as registered in the deeds office, what it sold for previously, comparable sales in your street and suburb, the number of properties sold per year and their median prices, as well as the demographics of residents, buyers and sellers in a suburb or street. All of this data assists your agent in confidently setting an asking price. But, turning this on its head, is you agent using the available data to specifically target potential buyers who fit the same or similar profile of recent buyers in the street and suburb?

In Bryanston, for example, in the past year 75% of recent buyers in the suburb were aged between 18 and 49 years old, while 52% of recent sellers fell within the same age group. This suggests that Bryanston is getting younger, and is perfectly suited to young professionals and young families with school-going children. Also, the major banks have neither increased nor decreased their appetite for lending in the suburb so buyers will be able to access bond finance should they need it.

Data relevant to a buyer of a R4m home are different – generally speaking – to those of an R800,000 sectional title purchaser. And because each buyer is different, so should your home’s listing description be.

Do you know your intended buyer?demographics people

The R4m home buyer is probably in his/her mid-30s to 40s, has bought and sold to purchase this home, has school going or near-university going children, and has more than one car. They are also acutely aware of property price appreciation, capital growth and intended developments near or in the suburb.

The R800,000 buyer is likely single or newly married, is younger than 35, and this is his/her first property purchase. They have grown up to a large degree with cellphones and social media, and are tech savvy.

The R4m pitch

This majestic, 4-bedroom freehold home is set on a large corner stand near Michael Mount Waldorf School, Brescia House School and Bryanston Primary School. There are three Gautrain bus stops within walking distance, while the home enjoys easy access to the N1 and the R512 William Nicol arterial. All the major banks continue to have appetite for lending in the suburb, which demonstrates their confidence in the node. The median price for a freehold property in Bryanston last year was R4,5m, which means this deal is good value. The majority of stable owners in Bryanston are aged between 36 and 64 (69%), while 75% of recent buyers are aged between 18 and 49. In the past 10 years, the annual compound growth rate for freehold property in Byanston has been 4.43%; and 5.5% since 2012.

The R800,000 pitch

This spacious, brand-new 2 bedroom unit is available directly from the developer, meaning transfer duties are not applicable. The development features fibre to the home, free WiFi and zero levies for a year. Within walking distance of coffee shops, malls and easily accessible to Uber services. Mortgage lending available through all the major banks and 33% of recent buyers aged 18 to 35 years old means you will be in good company with likeminded homeowners. In the past 10 years, the annual compound growth rate for sectional title property in Byanston has been 6.10%; and 5.64% since 2012.

Targeting your buyerTarget market

The pitch for the R4m home is similar but not entirely the same for the R800,000 property, and neither should they be. Understanding who your property may appeal more to can and should be applied when marketing your property, and your agent should be using available data to speak more directly to a possible buyer, addressing their needs, wants and interests.

Once this is completed, your agent should be using the most specific and targeted advertising technologies available to reach the most relevant buyers who will be interested in your property among the thousands of others in your suburb and city. By only placing your property sale on a portal and printed in a newspaper classifieds supplement and leaving it to chance is both lazy and outdated. Today, more than ever before, technology exists to target potential buyers using specific age demographics, interests and geographical information to guarantee your listing is exposed to relevant buyers who would be most interested in your property. It’s affordable, customisable and measureable.

Facebook is the largest network in South Africa, with more than 14 million users, which makes it the largest advertising marketplace in the country. Ensure your agent combines social media in your property sale’s marketing mix and insist that they expose it on relevant neighbourhood pages, property buying and selling groups as well as pages that demonstrate the biggest audience of residential property-focused information and engagement. If your agent does not include this, ask why and insist they do. Your listing may just sell quicker and for closer to its asking price.


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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