Keller Williams lays solid foundation in SA market

Posted On Tuesday, 28 January 2014 07:17 Published by
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Biggest estate agent group in the US, Keller Williams, lays solid foundation in SA market.

Neil CronjeAlthough Keller Williams Realty, the biggest estate agent group in the US and the second-biggest in the world, made a low-key entrance in the South African market, it has been an overwhelming success, the group’s South African head, Neil Cronje, said last week.

In Keller Williams’s first year of operations in South Africa, the country quickly became the fastest-growing region for the US-based franchising giant.

"We are doing very well in South Africa. We have 200 agents, which I believe will grow to 1,000 agents by the end of the year. The Keller Williams model is to have many agents in each office," he said.

Mr Cronje said Keller Williams had revolutionised the American real estate industry in the past 30 years and that South African franchisees, which included various well-known names in the residential property market, predicted that the same would happen in South Africa.

"It is all about estate agents sharing contacts and work. Estate agents do not support each other enough. Also, in America, the same estate agent does not represent the buyer and seller. We intend to have agents working for a buyer in one deal and a seller in another," he said.

Keller Williams, which started selling franchises in 1991, became the largest real estate franchise in North America last year and announced its goal of becoming number one in the world in agent count, transaction and turnover. It currently has about 700 offices and 95,000 agents worldwide.

Since the collapse of the American property market during the financial crisis of 2008, Keller Williams’s number of agents increased from 25,000 in 2005 to the current figure of 95,000. The other major groups lost between 25% and 46% of their franchisees, according to Mr Cronje.

Keller Williams Worldwide president Chris Heller praised the South African team’s success.

"Our South African region is truly setting a new standard. We are privileged to be in business with such talented real estate professionals," he said.

Mr Cronje has worked in South African real estate for more than two decades. He established Engel & Völkers, a European real estate group that specialises in the luxury market in South Africa.

Keller Williams’s 200 agents operate in 13 offices in South Africa based along KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, in Pretoria, Gauteng and the Western Cape. Mr Cronje said the business model of Keller Williams in South Africa enabled successful franchisees and agents "to be really profitable".

"Instead of forfeiting up to half of their commission to be part of a big group, they are, rather, independent entrepreneurs with the backing of a big international group. Agents pay for the cost of support services, but only up to a point, after which they keep all their commission," he said.

He said Keller Williams’s training material would soon be used for a course that would enable estate agents to obtain a university qualification. More than 60 courses could be downloaded at no cost to franchises and agents.

Earlier this month, small and medium-sized enterprises financier and developer Business Partners said it expected unlisted commercial property to improve its yields relative to other asset classes. Business Partners executive director Gerrie van Biljon said direct property could be a haven this year.

Property economist Erwin Rode said capitalisation rates this year would stay more or less where they were last year. He was worried, however, that consumers’ incomes would fall this year, dampening prospects of shopping centre properties.

Source: BD

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 07:38

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