A new property platform Property Fox in South Africa has just gone live aiming to reinvent the property sale and purchase model to offer a quick successful sale at a fraction of the traditional price.
Established by young entrepreneurs Crispin Inglis and Ashley James Property Fox will make use of professionals freelance photographers nationally to showcase people's houses online, plus offer customers floor plans and valuations and access to other related service professionals they need.
Sellers have the choice of running their own viewings or not and the business runs from a centralised operations centre to saves costs.
"Property sale commission rates in South Africa have hovered between 5-7 per cent for a long time which is generally considered quite high by international standards," says Ingliss, .
"So we decided to embrace tech advancements and have redesigned the sales model to a point where we are able to offer sellers the opportunity to sell for as little as R25,000 (US$1684.97) excl VAT once-off or 5 per cent commission on transfer."
“If you compare our commission of 1.5 per cent to the traditional 7 per cent scenario, our customers could be saving over 80 per cent.”
Sellers sign up with Property Fox online, after which professional photographers will visit their homes. The company says it has teamed up with SA’s leading online property market intelligence company, Lightstone Property, to ensure accurate property valuations.
"Once approved, the advert goes live on Property Fox as well as all other online property portals in the country, offering maximum exposure for owners,” says Ingliss, who finished his MBA at UCT and Cornell University then spent two years working for a property investment firm.
"At the end of the first week’s trial, customers who want to continue using Property Fox’s services must select a payment option - either a once-off payment of R25 000 upfront regardless of sale price, or a 1.5 per cent commission on selling price.
Analytics will tell customers how many views their property advertisement has received and how many resulted in viewings.
“This allows us to not only review the selling price if necessary but ensures full transparency for the seller. We have partnered with online verification service thisisme.com for identification verification on potential buyers and to ensure we know who we are talking to.
James, an entrepreneur who started and later sold his successful online sushi business, says Property Fox’s fundamental difference is that sellers host their own viewings.
“Our view is that nobody knows their home better than the owner,” he says. "However, if a seller is unable or unwilling to show their own homes, Property Fox can take on the responsibility for a small additional fee."
A Pre Sales team is solely dedicated to marketing property, while a Post Sales team takes care of the legal side of the sale.
Giving sellers additional peace of mind are some key professional relationships which Property Fox has established for clients' personal access should they require it including conveyancers The Dykes van Heerden Group and bond services provider OOBA.
Customers have both e-mail, live online chat and of course telephonic support systems to back up the online experience.
"The best thing about what we do is that we haven’t compromised on any element of the process to do so," says Ingliss. "In fact, quite conversely we would argue that we offer more professionalism than what’s out there."
"Our business structure allows us to continually invest into the individual elements of the sales process," explains Ingliss.
"For example, our photographers are all professional freelance photographers allowing us to showcase homes professionally.
"Our pre sales team are all experienced marketing gurus whose core focus is on giving your home the best possible exposure while our post sales team have intricate understanding of our purchase agreements and negotiations."
“Our research showed that unreliable home viewings, expenses involved and agent frustrations were among the most common challenges in selling a home,” Inglis adds.
“We need to impress our potential customer base within seven days, and show them how our services are not only the best but also the most affordable.
"Property Fox does not use sole mandates, believing that if a seller is not content with the level of service received, they should be able to walk away," he says.