That’s the word from Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, who says the change will be driven largely by consumers, “with home sellers becoming increasingly focused on greater exposure of their properties and the potential for faster sales, and homebuyers looking to do most of their comparative ‘shopping’ for the best value before they venture out to actually view any properties”.
The process, he says, will also be facilitated by the maturity of SA property portals such as Property24, Private Property, IOLProperty and Cyberprop.
“Having said that, though, it is really not our belief that print advertising will disappear. Rather, we believe that 2012 will also see the property publications starting to reshape themselves to make their offerings more cost effective.”
Everitt’s second prediction for 2012 is that estate agents will play an increasing role in co-ordinating and facilitating the essential services around real estate sales, such as compliance certificates and bridging finance. “And once again, this will be driven by consumers, who will favour those agents and agencies able to deliver the most comprehensive and efficient service.”
At the same time, he says, the increasing pressure on agents to increase both their professional qualifications and their use of technology is bound to fuel further consolidation in the industry. “Smaller operations will find it difficult to keep up with the expenditure required to field top performing agents, and will also find it advantageous to be part of a bigger group with a wider marketing network.
“Consequently, we believe that the groups currently ranked third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the industry will grow substantially in the coming year and narrow both the gaps between themselves and the gaps between them and the groups ranked first and second.”
As for the property market, Everitt says, his expectations are the same as those of most other commentators, that is, that lending restrictions and sales volumes will be much the same as in 2011.
“All things being equal, inflation seems set to tail down after the first quarter, which means no significant interest rate movement. As always, though, we believe homebuyers in 2012 should not stretch themselves to the limit but give themselves some leeway to cope comfortably with future interest rate rises of three or even four percentage points.”