011 929 3096 info@nationalguidetorealestate.co.za
Are agents still needed in today’s digital age?

Are agents still needed in today’s digital age?

The boom of the digital age has opened up many doors to the way we buy and sell property. In the past we used to pop out and pick up the latest copy of the property magazines available, today we switch on the PC or grab our smart phones as online property portals & Facebook has become the new ‘go-to’ for anything, including shopping for your new home from the comfort of your couch.


So selling your own home today should be just as easy right? Not quite… With so many new services out there, how does one know which is the best, most cost effective way to go? Will you opt for acquiring the services of a professional, making use of the latest ‘package’ solutions to come to market, or trying DIY – either or your goal is to get into contact with as many serious buyers as possible.


Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa notes that there is more to selling a home than meets the eye. The decision of how to handle the sale yourself is ultimately yours. However, no matter how digitally savvy or advanced we are, there are a few elements to selling or buying property that one cannot bypass. As with any other service, having a professional, experienced agent at your disposal to take calls, manage paperwork, handle the negotiations and processes and decipher the finer details, to ensure a smooth sale will ultimately save you considerable time and money. This does however come at a fee, and it is important to know what you are paying for.


It is important to know what your options are when it comes to selling, an unprofessional service could end up costing you so much that you lose all your investment gains. “In most cases this is your most valuable asset and not following a professional approach could potentially cost you a significant amount of money” Craig cautioned.


We take a closer look what is required during the sale process…


An eye for detail:

It is not always that easy to remove ourselves out of our situation and to imagine what others would see or want – we can so easily get caught up in our own fixations. We all have a personal idea of our homes and what might need fixing or not before we put it on the market. What we would like or, or more importantly what we don’t want to see when looking for a home. This is a very personal opinion and could be quite costly. If seeing a gourmet kitchen appeals to you – consider that someone else might be more concerned about roof leaks or not mind making the kitchen a DIY project themselves.


Having an outside perspective in terms of needs to be changed or renovated could benefit you with regards to the sale. Agents should know what is critical when inspecting, they know what buyers look at and they are able to validate why some things have been fixed and why the rest hasn’t.


Knowing the market

HomeTimes states that pricing your home according to the listing price of other homes on property search engines in your suburb or street is a bad idea as it might never sell. This is because no two homes are exactly the same, your home is unique. When selling your home, it is not you who will be setting the asking price; it’s the market. Whatever the market is prepared to pay for a home is what it will sell for.


Craig shared an example of a price setting situation with us:

You know that the house two streets down was on the market as you saw the For Sale sign, because humans are inquisitive, you phoned to find out that they wanted R2 million. 3 months later, you see the SOLD sign and decide that at that value, you can also look at moving or upscaling. What you don’t know is that before the For Sale sign went up, they had 2 offers which fell through due to buyers not being able to obtain a bond, and when the contract was eventually signed, they received an offer for R1,6m which they accepted. The property also had a gourmet kitchen which yours doesn’t and the loveliest sun room as it faces just in the right direction. No report that you buy will ever be able to give you this information or insight.


Agents will get a comparative market analysis done, purchase a property and suburb report and more importantly, after considering all factors, including where the suburb is heading, think like a buyer, seller and bank valuator, all at the same time. Ensuring the seller gets the best price, the buyer gets a solid investment for their future and both are guaranteed on a positive outcome as the banks are sure to find the value.


The pitfalls of overpricing:

At any given time there are buyers looking for newly released properties, hence it is vital to price your property correctly from the start. Are you able to determine the market value of your home without overpricing it?


Statistics show that 81% of people will value their home more than what it is worth, the other 19% are sure to be in the real estate field. It is a human trait to attach emotion to things. But this emotion could end up taking your home’s value down even lower than what it should be and here is why:

  • Buyers discard the idea of making an offer.
  • Overpriced properties stay on the market for far too long, changing a want to sell to a have to sell – causing a reduction in price and a panicked sale.
  • Buyers are always looking and if your home was listed at Price A, and after 3 months they still see the same property now listed at much lower – would you not also be inclined to think that if you wait, you could snatch a bargain as they are sure to go even lower, or even attempt to put in a low offer in the hope that they are desperate?
  • Where a normal property would sell after 3 months on the market at 98% of the market value, overpriced homes tend to sell after 6 months and at 75% of the market value.


Finding your buyer:

How long did an agent take to sell your last home? Many will say ‘1 day or 1 week or even 1 month’ homes “Easiest money they ever made” is often the words used. But this is never the case. Even though your property sold after a week, a lot happened behind the scenes.


The average time which a property is on the market for, is 3 months, thereafter is starts to appear as stale stock. If your property stays on the market for too long and the buyers monitor it, they might think there is something wrong and will not even bother to set up a viewing


Do you have access to ALL your potential buyers with their needs and to all possible options of properties? Real estate agents spend years building up an extensive database of all potential clients, so that by the time your property is on offer, they already know who is currently looking and are able to match buyers & sellers up quickly.


“Agents devote large amounts of their time to finding future clients and building a reputation. In fact, a large share of real estate sales are successful as the result of the agent contacts that have been built up over many years in the extensive database, all resulting from years spent on activities prior to your home being listed” Craig added.

Time = Money

Agent fees are made up out of time, including driving to appointments, time spent on the phone, meeting prospective buyers, promoting and showing the property and canvassing and distributing marketing material. Consider all the ‘to-do’ items which comes with selling a property, and then sit and do the calculations to determine which service is best for you:


A simplified, quick overview of the process is as follows:

  • Research the home’s value & determine the price.
  • Conduct an official ‘listing’ process as there are certain legalities you would need to take note of before you go to market.
  • Think like a buyer – write the property’s description, take the photos as to make it most appealing, get all the figures together, including the property assessment disclosure.
  • Start to plan the adverts & marketing avenues. Real estate does not sell from 1 advert – especially not if you do not have access to your buyers already. Activities include area distribution, word-of-mouth, property portals, social media, printed adverts, distribution material, e-mail marketing, sign boards, networking and more…
  • You will need to keep the activities going in order to ensure that you reach all social groups and opportunities which come available.
  • Allow time for various calls and answering the questions which a buyer might have before deciding if they wish to view.
  • If you have a viewing interest, co-ordinate diaries in order to ensure a buyer can come to view. This will have to be done numerous times, and note that if no screening process is done, you might end up even entertaining the local neighbours who are just curious of what the property looks like.
  • Once viewings has been conducted, it is time prepare the contract. Ensure that you have a legal binding agreement, ensuring that there are no loopholes for either parties as one incorrectly phrased clause could cost you hundreds of thousands.
  • Even though a buyer might have indicated they wish to put in an offer, there are still negotiations which need to take place. These come in various forms, it can be in terms of value, extras, occupation, s, furniture or even conditions set.
  • Once everyone is in agreement and the contract is signed, the buyer needs to obtain a bond with various institutions. If this is not done right, then it could cost the entire sale.
  • All securities passed, legal council needs to be obtained to handle the transfer and transaction, documents need to be signed and deposits paid.
  • If there are issues, it is back to the negotiation table and if not, it is time to start co-ordinating the occupation.
  • After occupation, one needs to also allow for possible problems such as incorrect disclosure of property condition, which if it was not done correctly, will need to be resolved between all parties.


The Calculation:

DIY: (Total number of hours spent on all the above) x (your hourly salary rate) + advertising fees

Agent: Based on the industry standard, 7.5% of property sales price

Package option: Flat Rate depending on services obtained + ((time spent conducting own viewings & negotiations) x (your hourly salary rate))




There are many negotiating factors for the agents to handle, aspects such as the listing price, financing, terms, date of occupation and the inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishing or equipment. Professionally trained agents are expert negotiators and will always attempt to negotiate the best deal. Negotiating without a professional agent could be costly and result in lost opportunities in a transaction.


Bond Application:

In today’s market where qualifying for a bond is not possible for everyone, it is very important that your prospective buyer is pre-qualified. This ensures that each person who enters your home is a qualified buyer and that you are not wasting your time or exposing yourself to time wasted on clients who will not be able to purchase your home.


Buyers can also opt to take their time with obtaining a bond, or deciding not to if they do not get one from their personal bank, which would be their likely first application. This could cost you your sale. You need to ensure that a buyer is assisted and educated, and that this is done as soon as possible so that the sales can be concluded with a quick turn-around.


The Legalities:

Do you know what you would need to disclose when clients come to view? It is imperative for sellers to disclose all known defects of their home to their agents before placing their properties on the market. The agents are then obliged to disclose these defects to their potential purchasers. You could run the risk of a law suit if you do not know or alternatively the sale could fall through.


Whether you are buying or selling, it requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, cancellation instructions, insurance policies, deeds and settlement statements. Having an expert to deal with this, will help you work through these processes quickly and more efficiently. Agents do not only help and ease this process, but can also provide you with valuable information of the area such as schools, zoning and plenty more.


Education and experience

Years ago, selling property was considered a hobby or part-time job, anyone was able to register and start selling. In 2008 the industry underwent rapid change, and being an agent is now a fully-fledged profession. A Real Estate Qualification is required by anyone who sells property as a profession and you must be in possession of a valid FFC issued by the EAAB (Estates Agency Affairs Board) which takes between 2-3 years to complete, so you can be sure you are in good hands.


Agents have years of experience, knowledge and support behind them and without a doubt, know their areas and how to do their job very well. They have already identified any potential problems and solutions with the property in advance and understand the seller’s mind-set, they know the ins and outs and have the expertise, and negotiating skills needed to provide reassurance to the buyers, that they are making the right decision.

Give your kids a head start in property from an early age by teaching them the right skills

Give your kids a head start in property from an early age by teaching them the right skills

Kids need to be taught about the value and appreciation of money from an early age – how to do this and when to do this is often the question. Luckily children learn fast, as they are incredibly inquisitive and even more so when they start to see how to reap the benefits of their hard work and savings.


“Introducing kids to money and how it works should begin at home. We want to avoid sending our youth out into the world without a good working knowledge of how finances function. Preparing them fully for the rigors of investing, credit, mortgages and all the other facets of our day to day living” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Why kids should know about how to work with money

It’s never too early to help your kids develop good financial habits and teach them to practice smart money management. Teaching children the fundamentals about earning and saving, and how to deal with money from an early age, will be extremely beneficial to them in the long run and is essential for their future financial success in adulthood. Showing children the basics such as how to budget, spend and save will establish good habits for life, the best lessons your children will receive will be from observing you in your daily life.


The Possibilities

How can you get your kids to start working towards owning a property from a young age? Bearing in mind that you have taught them how to work with their money and they have a good grasp of how money can work for them, they should already have the basics good financial framework laid down.


If you can manage to get your child to save a sum of money per month starting now, and increase it with a chosen percentage of your choice per year, by the time they reach 21 based on a normal interest rate on savings, they may possibly be able to start climbing the property ladder. This could give them an advantage, to use either as a bond deposit, bond and transfer costs or even their very first rental deposit. “Starting off with a property at such a young age, will mean that they could potentially buy their second home by 25 and grow their portfolio from there” Craig added.


Apart from saving you need to have a realistic talk with your kids, once they are old enough, and actually earning their own income, about the hidden costs of homeownership like taxes, home insurance, and interest on the mortgage, utility payments, maintenance and repairs. With young adults who are still living at home, it’s important to insist on contributions to the household if they haven’t stepped up yet. A good way to do this is ask them to chip in and pay rent and contribute to some of the house bills such as groceries and utilities, so that they can have a sense of what items cost and start working that into their budgets preparing them for homeownership later.


7 things kids really need to know about money

The concept of money: Parents should teach children that money is a helpful tool that makes it easier to get what we need and want, now and later. “Parents can start teaching children about money through play. Allowing children to role-play scenarios where they pretend to purchase something is a wonderful way of letting them learn about the value of money, how much things cost, how money works and the importance of counting. There are a number of toys on the market that help introduce small children to money, such as LeapFrog’s Count Along Register for ages two years and older. Kids learn quickly, so it’s never too early to introduce them to how money works,” says Chiquita Patrizi, spokesperson for Prima Toys.


The value of working for money:  It is important that kids learn from a young age that money doesn’t magically appear it must be earned. Discuss the importance of working for money and then give kids appropriate paid jobs in addition to expected household duties. As they get a little older, encourage them to make money outside the home by caring for the neighbor’s pets or washing cars.


The importance of saving and sharing: If kids have money, they’re likely going to want to spend it; they need to be taught by the time they reach school that it’s not OK to spend all of their money at once. Since spending money comes naturally, they also need to learn about saving and sharing.

You can help them learn this by teaching them the 20-10-70 rule:

Save 20% – this will teach them to always pay themselves first.

Give 10% – this teaches them the value of sharing and giving to others who are less fortunate or to causes they care about.

Spend 70% – this teaches them to spend less than they earn, which is the cornerstone of personal finance.


The difference between needs and wants: Teens have a hard time distinguishing true needs from actual wants. For example, clothes are a need, but brand names are a want, food is a need, but fast food or pizza is a want. To help teens learn the difference between the two let them do their own clothes shopping. Determine a shopping budget and create of list of items they need to buy. Give them a gift card that can be used in any store at the mall and let them make the difficult decisions when it comes to limited resources and unlimited options.


How credit works: Just as your kids notice you’re using money to buy things, they’re also likely noticing that you’re paying with plastic. Parents can tell kids that whenever they use a credit card or get a loan, the bank is providing money for the purchase; the bank will send a bill showing how much you owe. If you don’t pay all of it, you will have to pay interest on the remaining balance. That interest can add up over time, so you end up paying more than the actual cost of the item you bought. They should also be taught to spend only what they can afford to pay off each month so they don’t end up in debt and don’t harm their credit score.


The benefits of investing: Between the ages of 8 and 12, parents can introduce the concept of investing to their children. It’s important to teach them the money you make can make even more money, if you invest it wisely. Parents should explain that it requires taking a risk, with the expectation of achieving a return. It’s important to discuss how much risk you should be willing to take when investing. Explain that money invested can grow over time thanks to compound interest, which means that interest is paid on the amount invested plus the interest that grows on that investment. The earlier you start investing, the more time you give your money to grow and the more you’ll have. Parents and children can open an investment account together using some of the kids’ money.


The concept of net worth: When your kids are teenagers, you can start to explain the notion of net worth. In a nutshell, it’s the difference between total assets – what is owned, and liabilities – what is owed. Kids need to understand net worth because it’s a truer measure of financial health. For example, you could earn a lot of money. But if you also owed a lot of money, you could have a negative net worth. In other words, you wouldn’t have financial freedom.


A money teaching guide

How to save (Age 3-6)

  • Teach them not to spend money immediately and that it can be kept later for future purchases.
  • Use different envelopes for long and short term goals let them draw a picture on the front of the envelopes of what they want. Help them calculate how much to save each week, keep a realistic time frame otherwise they might get frustrated or bored.

Earnings & Spending (Age 5 – 8)

  • Have them do different chores in exchange for money.
  • Add their earnings to a jar so they can see the money building up over time.
  • When they shop let them pay for their item themselves.

Opportunity cost (Age 7 – 11)

  • Teach them the benefit or value of something that must be given up to gain something else
  • Allow your children to price and sell their own items. This will teach them about setting a value for their items, making decisions, and negotiating prices.
  • Give them R50 and ask then to pick 3 R20 items, they would like to buy, ask them to choose 2 items because they can’t afford all 3, explain that sometimes we need to make financial decisions based on the money we have.

Budgeting & Investing (Age 13 – 16+)

  • Give them a set amount of money to buy family presents, help them decide on how much to spend on each person, discuss how they can make decisions around choosing items within their budget
  • Explain to them that paying for university now can earn them money in the future, show them that different university course have different costs, look at the different earning potentials of the professions to show them how an investment can pay off later.
  • Assist your children in opening a cheque account and teach them how to manage/balance their accounts. This will teach your children how to keep an eye on the bigger financial picture.
  • Spend time with your children learning how the stock market works, what it is and why people invest in it.


We all want our kids to be financially stable and have a genuine respect for the value of the money they will be earning. Once they understand and see the benefits and rewards it brings it will become part of their lives forever and they will then always respect money and know how to work with it which is the ultimate goal for every parent.

A healthy, wholesome practical garden

A healthy, wholesome practical garden

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or not, practical techniques can help to make it much easier than it might seem.  Starting can be a daunting task, but the key is to start small in the first year and plant only a few of your favourite flowers/veggies. This will allow you more of a chance of success and a greater feeling of accomplishment. In the years to come, you can increase the size of your garden with each planting season.


A little planning can go a long way toward making a garden you’ll love working in as much as admiring.  “Maintaining a care–free garden is a rewarding experience. Planting organic vegetables is becoming more and more popular, with everyone starting to enjoy healthy, fresh vegetables from their own gardens. It is always a good idea to plan according to season changes and adapting to your own climate. Ideal conditions result in healthier plants, fewer pest and disease problems” says Tihara Baker, Relationship Manager of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.  We take a look at some aspects to guide you from being a novice to becoming an expert gardener.


What to plant?

It is lovely to have an array of pretty flowers covering your landscape, however some people say a plant has to earn its place in the garden and be productive in some way. Starting to grow your own vegetables is more cost effective, convenient and most importantly, is of a higher nutrient value.


This doesn’t mean that your vegetable patch must be devoid of any flowers or vice versa. Inter-planting  flowers and vegetables play an important role in any organic garden. Flowering plants will protect your vegetables from insects and make them more productive. We habitually grow flowers and vegetables in different beds – why not plant them together? As long as each plant’s individual requirements are met there should not be any problems with mixing them.


Many vegetables are beautiful in their own right and can be added to an established flower bed.

Peas and beans can easily scramble up a fence or wall and herbs can likewise grow amongst the flowers. The best flowers to choose to plant amongst your vegetables are those rich in high-protein pollen that provide sources of nectar throughout the year like Marigold, Daisy or Nasturtiums.


You can have a spirited mixture that is both attractive and functional in any setting.  Be patient as you cultivate your relationship with your garden and the earth. Before long, you’ll reap the benefits. 


8 Easy flowering plants for beginners

  1. Sunflowers – easy for kids to grow
  2. Sweet Peas – the more you pick the more flowers they produce!
  3. Californian Poppy – need next to no water at all
  4. Nasturtium -Quick growing and colourful!
  5. Marigold – These easy and fast growing
  6. Hardy Geranium – Reliable, low maintenance ground cover
  7. Fuchsias – Easy to grow patio plants best loved for adding colour to hanging baskets
  8. Pansy – with their cheery faces, they are easy plants to grow from seed

8 Easy flowering plants for beginners.jpg



Grow a Simple Salad

  • Tomatoes – most popular vegetable for any size garden can grow in hanging baskets or containers
  • Cucumbers – Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures, as well as support for climbing
  • Lettuce – sow additional seeds every two weeks for a continuous harvest
  • Spring Onions- Even the tiniest plot or pot will accommodate them
  • Radishes – take just 20 days to reach full size!
  • Chives – the champions of the herb world. They can handle almost any type of soil
  • Carrots – carrots are pretty easy to grow – grow in small gardens and even flower beds
    Green Beans – beans prefer full sun and well-drained soil
  • Zucchini – grown in containers or in soil.  Grow easily from seeds.
  • Snap Peas – These quick growers’ pretty much take care of themselves


Know when to plant what

As many gardeners know, understanding when to plant vegetables and what to plant with what, is very important to ensure that they thrive and are healthy. Vegetables differ not only in size, colour, shape, and taste, but in their preferred growing conditions, too. If you are unsure of what to plant when, or with what, take a look at our comprehensive vegetable planting guide.



Mulching improves the soil quality, helps retain moisture and gives your garden a neat appearance – with less weeds. Now’s the ideal time to mulch your beds! “Mulches are best applied from mid- to late spring and autumn, when the soil is moist and warm,” advises Mimi Rupp, a respected garden consultant and founder of Stone etc. in Port Elizabeth.


What to choose

When it comes to mulch you have two choices:

  • Biodegradable mulches – leaf mold, garden compost, wood chippings, and well-rotted manure break down gradually to release nutrients and help to improve soil structure. The downside is that mulch will need replacing when the material has fully broken down.
  • Non-biodegradable mulches – slate, shingle, pebbles, gravel, stone chipping do not boost soil quality, but they do suppress weeds, conserve moisture and look decorative.


According to Rupp, beds and borders can be mulched entirely, but you need to take care not to smother low growing plants or to pile mulches up against the stems of woody plants.


These are her top tips:

  • To be effective, biodegradable mulches need to be between at least 5cm

and 7.5cm thick

  • Lay mulches over moist soil, after removing weeds, including their roots
  • Single trees and specimen shrubs are best mulched to the radius of the canopy
  • There is no need to remove mulches to apply fertilizers. Spread fertilizers over mulches in late winter so they are washed down to roots when it rains
  • A buildup of mulch can produce a hard layer, which is difficult for water to penetrate. Avoid this by only replacing the mulch when it has completely rotted away



In order to have healthy plants they need compost, which is decayed organic material.

Garden waste: Grass cuttings are high in nitrogen and leaves are a good source of carbon. You can also add twigs, dead flowers and those weeds that haven’t gone to seed.

Household waste: Egg boxes, egg shells, teabags, coffee grounds, veggie scraps, newspaper and firewood ash.

Don’t use: Cooked or raw meat, dairy products, citrus, animal faeces, diseased or insect-infested plants and plants that have been sprayed with chemicals.


How to compost

Compost bins: Position bins directly on soil/grass as this allows insects, worms and other micro-organisms to access the contents and assist in breaking down the waste. Give it a good mix once a week.  After 3–6 months, the contents should start looking like a dark soil similar to garden soil.

Compost heaps: Once you’ve chosen a suitable spot, simply begin a heap, enclose it with bricks, plastic or wooden fencing. Start with small branches and twigs to create ventilation at the bottom of the pile, then add garden and household waste – alternate layers of green (grass clippings, household waste) with brown (dry leaves, twigs, newspaper).  After about 6 months, your compost should be dark brown, crumbly and ready to use.

Compost worm farms: These are a great way to turn kitchen waste into organic garden food. Known as vermiculture, the process involves feeding kitchen waste to worms.  The worms then reward you with nutrient-rich vermicompost and organic vermitea – by-products of worm castings – which can be used to feed soil and plants. Both are rich in microbes, good bacteria and enzymes.



Fertilisers are another quick, convenient and reliable way to add nutrients to your soil. They are usually in granulated form; liquid form is also available in organic types.  Organic fertilisers are more beneficial to the soil as they encourage earthworms and good bacteria thus improving the soil’s structure.


Make your own fertiliser

  1. Used tea leaves and coffee grounds contain natural nitrogen which helps to promote growth
  2. Blend kitchen vegetable scraps and egg shells in blender with cup of water, mix into soil around the plant’s base
  3. Accumulate your banana peels, dry them out in the oven and place in a blender. Mix in 3 – 5 egg shells.  Blend into a fine, yet still slightly coarse powder. Apply to the base of your plants like you would a granular fertiliser.



Make it a family event

  • Children are natural little gardeners as they are very curious, like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt. Kids will experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life first-hand.


  • Having your kids help out with the gardening increases their self-esteem, helps develop a sense of ownership and most importantly helps foster relationships with family by spending fun quality time together. It is said that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.


  • Choose plants which are relatively easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest. Give the kids their own garden beds and tools and engage them through the entire process, from seed to table. Finally remember to show off their work to friends and family this will make them beam with pride.


  • Should you kids not be that keen on growing vegetables, give them a secluded corner of soil, perhaps outside a bedroom window. Allow children to let their imaginations flow and create a fairy garden. Screen the space with fragrant shrubs or creepers; bring in a selection of easy-going, pretty flowered plants and moss. Add a gnome or two with free-standing solar lights and watch the magic unfold.


In the Spotlight: For success, choose the best – Top Performing Agent Vere Killassy

In the Spotlight: For success, choose the best – Top Performing Agent Vere Killassy

Real estate agents are permanently on the run and we had the privilege to pin down one of the top agents in the Engel & Völkers group. Vere Killassy from Engel & Völkers Broadacres is one of the many top performing agents in the Fourways area of Johannesburg and we managed to get a behind the scenes look into who he really is.


Some background:

Vere owned his own IT Finance company for 17 years and has been part of the real estate industry in Jukskei Park for almost 7 years now, of which the past 2 has been as part of the E&V family.  His career path had to change when he was granted full custody of his 2 daughters, Teighan 19 and Natasha 15, and he knew he now needed to be there for his girls as both dad and mom. With him being office bound from 7am to 7pm, he decided he needed a new vocation that allowed him to be flexible and have more time at home. Vere sold his company lock stock and barrel and moved into the real estate industry, which gave him the same earning capacity but with more flexible hours. Vere initially joined another brand and although he was successful, the franchise was sold to another entity and this gave him the opportunity to assess the market to see if he could further his success. He decided to join the Engel & Völkers brand as they answered all his questions and ambitions.


“A great deal of a successful agent’s time, money and personal effort goes into marketing their expertise and qualities to the public to build a client base. Once they have done a great job for the clients, repeat business and referrals will follow. The real estate profession changes every day, but the qualities you find in your top-performing agents do not” says Craig Hutchison CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


On a more personal note, Vere recently got married to a wonderful woman, Siobhan, this past December. She also has 2 kids, Doug aged 20 and Tabitha 19. They now have a full house and Vere says he would not have it any other way. He is passionate about his family and all his kids. The family does extend even further as they also share their home with 6 cats, 4 dogs and 54 tropical fish – we think we can safely say that you need to be able to be on top of your game in his house. When asked about his hobbies and what he does to relax Vere answers “Work, work and more work. Family and activities are also work that keeps you busy so the term relaxing …What is that?”

We got to do a quick Q&A to gain some more insight into Vere’s life:

Which areas do you work in?

Residential properties in both full and sectional titles within the Jukskei Park, Olivewood Estate and Waterford Estate areas of Fourways.


What are your top three secrets to success?

You need to do the basics, don’t give up and work hard.


What made you join the E&V group?

Upon meeting with the CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, I knew it would be the perfect fit. I felt at home from the moment I walked through the doors, and in the interview, they answered all my questions and I respected their openness and honesty. It truly is a great brand and a great group, almost like a true work-family. Which is why we always refer to the E&V family.


Can you remember how many properties you have sold? How many?

356 properties to date – One never forgets a sale or rather me personally – as I remember each of my clients and each of the properties I sold.


Please tell us about your accolades / achievements since joining the E&V group in 2015 

I settled in with the brand quite quickly upon joining them. Only 2 months after starting, I was already ranking on their monthly, National top achievers programme, which I have managed to achieve 20 times since then, as well as platinum status for 2 quarters. Other accolades at our annual Rewards function includes:

  • 2nd Place Agent of the Year – Bond Origination 2015
  • 1st Place Agent of the Year – Gauteng 2016
  • 1st Place Agent of the Year – Bond Origination 2016
  • 2nd Place Agent of the Year – Top Preforming Agent of the Year 2016
  • 3rd Place Agent of the Year – Most Exclusive Mandates 2016
  • 2nd Place Agent of the Year – Most Units Sold 2016
  • Brand Ambassador Nomination for the Year 2016


Which part of the property industry do you enjoy most?

I love people, I love interacting with them and love properties.


What is the most vital business tool that estate agents should have at their disposal in today’s market and why?

Knowledge, know what you are talking about, speak the truth and always give the full picture. Knowledge is POWER!


Do you remember the first property you sold? Please tell us about it.

My first deal was 19 Peridot Street, an abandoned home, I had to search for the owner in Germany and then through social media tracked him down and then sold his home.  My first sale September 2010 for R1,2 million and I have sold the property again since then in 2015 for R2,8 million.


What do you find to be the most enjoyable and the most challenging aspects of the job?

The most enjoyable is definitely closing the deal and signing the offer – the rush is unexplainable. On the opposite end, the most challenging is definitely cold calling – it takes a lot of perseverance not to get despondent when clients are irritated with the caller.


What characteristics, in your opinion, make for a great estate agent/broker and why?

Agents need to be hard headed, tough skinned, tenacious, hard workers, and a people person and have the ability to talk.


Please tell us a bit about your best listing currently on your books.

Currently my best listing is ENV99529 if you wish to have a peek. A stunning home where you will want to invite your friends or family over to enjoy their company while sitting at the covered patio overlooking the pool and garden. Or those special moments with your loved one, sipping champagne and looking up at the stars above. It is 529m2 of living space, and 1250m2 of land for R2,4 million.

What is your personal goal to achieve in turnover for the financial year? / What are some of your career goals?

I would like to do 50 million in sales this year, finish 1st in the country overall and get my market share up from 28% to 35%.

What advice would you give to new kids on the block about making a success in their career in property?

Do the basics, work hard, put in the hours and don’t spend your money when you get a pay-out. Learn to manage your money, learn from a top achiever, follow them and learn from them.


On the lighter side:


You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

Train the elephant to do party tricks and rent it out on a party basis.


How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?

Prove to them that they can’t live without it, show all the pros and cons of having it, make them want it and make them need it.


Describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.

Imagine the sun beating down on you; you are lying on the beach with the waves breaking over your feet. You look up at the sun, the heat burning through your eyelids, that warm glow that you feel burning into your brain – now that is YELLOW.


A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

Is this Mexico, someone told me you had Tequila.

10 Questions to ask your Real Estate Agent before buying a home

10 Questions to ask your Real Estate Agent before buying a home

Property still remains your best investment, and the benefits of owning a home are well worth the effort. Although this might seem like a lengthy and complicated process, your real estate agent is there to assist you with each step. Find an experienced agent who can help guide you through the process.


First – one should know what you want. “Do your homework first” said Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. Numerous estate agencies have open houses in various areas every weekend, and some even during the week. This will help you to judge the size that suits your needs and will help give good insight into your choice of area. Think about accessibility to work, public transport, schooling and other amenities. “Remember location is of great importance, especially to secure your investment for the future, and in fact will also have an effect on your loan approval” Craig continued.


Another big must is to sit down, and draw up a list of what is most important to you in a property. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. Small renovations can usually address any concerns that you may have with a property.  Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repairing. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.


Once you have done your homework and decided on what you want, there are some questions you need to ask your agent that may help give some good insight into your various choices available. “When working with a reputable real estate agency, your agent will be trained and qualified to provide you with all the information and answers you need beforehand, to be able to make that very important decision- to buy or not to buy”. Agents are legally bound to tell the truth, so it pays to ask a handful of questions to find out what the real situation is, which will make you feel more confident that you’re making the right choice on the right house.

  1. Who are you dealing with?

Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the agent you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality. Enquire about their qualifications – designations such as a valid fidelity fund certificate with the EAAB. Qualified agents have gone through numerous years of training and are in a better position to advise you on all aspects of the sale, as well as to ensure you have the best possible negotiator and expertise in your corner.



  1. What financial obligation am I looking at?

Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender or mortgage originator and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford; it will also be an indication to the seller that you are a serious buyer. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income. Ask your agent to help you with bond calculations and the monthly instalments as well as advise you on the deposit you will need. Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price saved as a down payment.  Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs, ask the agent for the closing costs including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees. Lastly remember to ask what the average monthly utility bills are. Inquire about electricity, water, waste removal, levies and any other utility costs that are applicable.


  1. Why is the owner selling & how long has the property been on the market?

Although the agent is not obliged to answer this question in detail, you will be given a hint to the circumstances of the owners. Perhaps the owner is selling due to personal circumstances, or it could be that there is something wrong with the property itself. If someone has passed away in the property, an agent is legally bound to disclose these types of reasons. By asking how long the house has been on the market you will also be able to gain some insight into whether there are any big problems that other people have realised that you haven’t or whether it is overpriced.


  1. How did the agent decide on an asking price? / How much is the home worth?

A professional agent will provide you with their justifications for the asking price. They should arm you with plenty of comparable stats and facts — prices of similar nearby homes that have been sold recently, how long homes are staying on the market as well as the current market situation. You should have a good idea what properties in the area sell for. Your agent will assist you with this information and advise you correctly to ensure you make the right choice.


  1. What offers have they had so far?

The agent will tell you if there have been other offers, but not the amounts of the offers. The agent is obligated and incentivised to get the best possible price for the seller.


  1. Exactly what is included in the sale?

Make sure you know exactly what fixtures and fittings are included in the sale of the home. There might be some items which really grabbed your attention, such as a home theatre setup, but only once you move in do you notice that the actual equipment have been removed, which could make you regret your purchase as it the chances are that it was one of the big emotional connections you had with the property. On the other hand, it could also help you to make your decision. If you were weighing up two properties, however the one includes all the custom blinds and curtains, it could possibly make it a bit more appealing than the other which is a blank canvass.



  1. What can they tell you about the local neighbourhood?

Ask about the location of the home. Homes in desirable areas are worth more than homes in locations not so desirable. What’s the school district like? – This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. Where are the nearest shops? Are there nuisance factors? Traffic from nearby roads or stores may be an irritant. Think about accessibility to work and is it economically stable? – Check with your local property sales advisor to see if household income and property values in the neighbourhood are stable or rising. Is it a good investment? – Ask a local sales advisor about price appreciation in the neighbourhood. While it is a good idea to see what the agent has to say, make sure you do some independent research as well. Remember location is of great importance, especially to secure your investment for the future.


  1. Is there a problem with this house or the house condition you should know about?

The big fear if you are buying is that you are missing out some big negative factor that others know about. A nearby sewerage plant opening up, a new highway being planned on your boundary fence or previous water damage that could cause foundation problems. Ask if there are any drainage issues on the property that could later cause damp issues as well as problems with sink holes. If you have any doubts about a house, ask surrounding neighbours what they think. If you know in advance that the home has structural issues or deferred maintenance, you might want to take those problems into consideration before deciding on the offer price. Some agents recommend a home inspection before putting the home on the market, if one has been done, ask to see it. The general condition of the house is also an important pricing factor. Information concerning things that need to be done in or around the home must be taken into consideration when making an offer.


  1. Have any major works been conducted / has the sellers made any major renovations or additions?

If so, are you able to have a look at the relevant plans of these renovations or additions? It would be awful if you bought your dream home only to find out you would have to knock half of it down. In general, this will give you a ballpark notion of how much money they’ve invested into the home and what they hope to get out.


  1. Influencing factors

You have the right to ask the agent about the crime in the area, what type of incidents have taken place and whether there are security providers in the area, and if the property is in a boomed off area ask whether there are any monthly contributions that need to be made for the security.

Find out whether there are any problems with the neighbours – inquire about issues such as past /on-going disputes and the neighbourhood. If you are really unsure, ask if you could meet the neighbours, this will give you an indication if you will be compatible and they might disclose other facts of the neighbourhood that you would like to know. Ask them how long have they lived in the neighbourhood and what do they like best and least about living there? Do all the neighbours get along with each other? Have they ever noticed anything odd about their house or yours? How quiet is the neighbourhood?


One often forgotten, however critically important item is pets. If you are moving into an estate or a complex remember to ask the agent for the rules regarding pets. What types of pets and how many are allowed? Do they need to be chipped and do you need to verify them with the body corporate? You can also speak casually to potential neighbours to see if they are pet-friendly.


Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. After all, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.