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Number of listings does not a successful agency make

Low-commission estate agency, HomeBid may only have around 380 properties for sale , virtually all on sole mandates – and have been in existence since mid 2015 – but according to Property24 analytics, the agency gets 36.4% more leads than the average number received per month across the more than 5,000 estate agencies on the portal.

“This shows that buyers are voting with their fingers for HomeBid’s properties,” says founder and veteran property economist and developer, Neville Berkowitz. “Our low commission of just 1.95% plus VAT (or minimum payment of R17,500 plus VAT), means sellers save R64,000 per R1m of their home’s selling price, calculated against an average commission of  7.5% plus VAT by traditional high-commission estate agencies.”

What it is really costing you to buy and sell your R1m home

“Our low commission means our properties are priced at a much fairer market value, without sellers having to price their properties with a built-in buffer of 6.4% extra commission (8.55%-2.2% incl.VAT).”

HomeBid can do this, says Berkowitz, because the low-commission operator only takes on homes they believe they can sell within 60 days- even in these no growth economic times.

General manager, Cavan Sheahan, says sellers need to understand that it is the buyers who determine what their homes will ultimately sell for. Our listing market values are determined independently by registered valuers who work for the lending Institutions, such as banks and SA HomeLoans. This assures that a financially capable buyer will get a home loan based on these values.

“We have to conduct price counselling with some sellers to demonstrate what a fair market value is for their homes,” he says, noting that some sellers are not always willing to budge from the prices they have in mind. “Those who do accept our fair market-related valuations do sell their homes. Those who don’t, take their homes to agencies where they are promised a successful sale at their somewhat inflated price expectations. While they may end up selling their homes, they either have to accept lower offers or have to keep their homes on the market for a longer period of time – all the while having to either put their own home buying aspirations on ice or still having to pay for municipal utilities costs and insurance, or both.”

Ironically, the low commission agency reports that operational traditional estate agents and  admin staff at these agencies, have commissioned HomeBid to sell their own homes. Sheahan declines to disclose which agents they are or which agencies they represent, but says that even with their employee discounts they still recognise the savings offered by selling through HomeBid. Sheahan has provided proof to HomeTimes of these claims.

“Despite listing on the portals, we also employ creative marketing techniques to ensure our clients’ homes are exposed to as many potential buyers as possible,” says Sheahan. “One of which is a new free-to-list portal owned and operated by HomeTimes Media, namely HomeHunt.

“HomeHunt agencies enjoy access to HomeTimes’ Facebook audience of some 335,000 Facebook followers. For just R499 we can list and expose our clients’ homes to the biggest residential-focused community on SA Facebook.

“Our listings have received phenomenal exposure and engagement using HomeTimes’ Facebook. One of which was a Kyalami property that was exposed to more than 44,000 people and received more than 12,600 clicks, 105 click throughs to the listing on our site and 62 shares. I don’t know of any other portal or media where this level of exposure and interest is attainable. Our sellers are ecstatic with this additional coverage for their homes for sale in this tough marketplace.”


This feature was sponsored by HomeBid – the largest low commission estate agency in South Africa, currently selling over 50 homes a month, at a minimum commission of R17,500 plus Vat. 

Find out more about career prospects at HomeBid here.


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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