Engel & Völkers Southern Africa celebrate at their Annual White affair

The team at Engel & Völkers Southern Africa knows how to work hard as well as how to let their hair down and celebrate their success. This year’s Annual Rewards and Recognition (R&R) function was held in the beautiful Stellenbosch Winelands amongst the Vineyards.


On 20 April over 150 Real Estate Agents, Licence Partners and Assistants, came together in Stellenbosch for their rewards function, with this year’s theme depicted the company ethos with elegance and in their corporate colour of white. The R&R is a special evening where the team from the E&V Master Licence recognise the achievements of the most successful employees of the past year. It also creates a platform where guests can enjoy the networking amongst their peers, and teams can come together and strengthen their relationships within their shops.


The eventful day started off with the Licence Partner conference at the Devonvale Wine & Golf Estate, providing a wonderful setting for the 40 participants in attendance. The main topic of the agenda was recruitment. “Visibility and recruitment will be key to unlock success in 2018, with the help of EV Training Academy, the focus will be shifted from quantity to absolute quality in recruits” stated Lara Machado, Head of SA Academy & Operations Manager of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Simone Soltau, Head of International Franchise & Business Performance, representing the Hamburg Engel & Völkers headquarters also attended and shared her knowledge on the topic. Real estate property brokerage is often overlooked as a credible and lucrative career, which is changing rapidly as Engel & Völkers is at the forefront of driving this change through their international system and training programme.


As the sun started to set over the vineyards the time came for all the Licence Partners, Agents and Assistants to be recognized, acknowledged and celebrated at the Rewards & Recognition Function at the beautiful Landtscap venue, a modern location set amid the Cape Winelands.


As the guests made their way along the red carpet, they were welcomed by the AffodizzyActs violinist who set the mood for the evening. Guests gathered on the deck where they were able to enjoy the not only delicious, but stunningly bottled Carol Boyes wines and Craft beer sponsored by SARRPS IT Services, while mingling and admiring the panoramic views. While waiting for the main festivities to begin the MC van der Berg Attorney Oyster King and Sushi Queen kept guests entrained, serving bites of pure delight.


As soon as everybody arrived, it was time to settle down as starters were served whilst guests were welcomed and given a run through of the evening’s proceedings, after which everyone could roam and network at their leisure with some more surprises underway with a cigar tray from Private Property and a chocolatier from MacRobert Attorneys doing the rounds.


Once dinner services completed, it was time to start the formalities of the evening.  Awards were given in the categories such as “Money Maker of the Year”, “Team Leader of the Year”, “Brand Ambassador”, “CI Shop of the Year” and “Agent of the Year” for each region. Greg Crowder from Private Property also presented the Private Property Individual Online Excellence award to Jürgen Schreck from Potchefstroom, and the Centurion Office walked away as the Top Supporting Office.


“We congratulate all the winners, and know that their successes are a great inspiration to the rest of the agents, I am extremely proud of the achievements of everyone within the Engel & Völkers Southern Africa family,” proudly noted Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


As the awards section drew to a close, it was time for the celebrations and party to begin. It got off to a spectacular start with a fibre optic whip dance act, followed by DJ Nic made possible by Mortgage Max, who created the perfect atmosphere for all those wishing to have some fun on the dance floor, which proceeded till the early hours of the morning.


Engel & Völkers Southern Africa wishes to thank you to all their partners who formed part of the event for their kind contributions, making an evening such as this possible.

The hunt for the right home has begun

Buying your first home can be a thrilling experience, although it can also come with its own unique challenges. It is quite common to be anxious when you’re house hunting – especially if it is your first property. A small amount of preparation can go a long way to ensuring you end up with the perfect home.


“Buying a property is both exciting and terrifying at the same time, even though it is seen as business transaction it is an emotional affair too. Try your best to try and keep your emotions under control before you make a hard-pressed and foolish decision about a home which is financially out of your reach, or alternatively settling for something within your budget, yet not what you wanted” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


In order to avoid finding yourself drowning in “house” possibilities, set priorities and organize the house hunting process early on, you can then rest assured that you have armed yourself with as much knowledge as possible.


To help you stay focused on the important details during your house hunt, here are some tips and important decisions to think about before rushing to the property market.


Know Your Budget

Determining what you can afford is the first step in narrowing down the home search. Buyers need to know what they will be able to afford on a monthly basis, and decide ahead of time what amount they are comfortable with paying per month for their mortgage. Remember to include the other costs associated with homeownership, such as home insurance, property taxes, maintenance and utilities.


Check Your Score

The higher your credit score, the better. Good credit is like gold when obtaining a mortgage and securing the best interest rate possible. If your credit score falls short, get busy repairing it -correct any errors that might be on your report, start paying all your bills on time, and get your credit limit raised.


Pre-Approved Home Loan

Most people will need to take out a bond to purchase their first home. Applying for pre-approval with the assistance of a Bond Originator puts you in a much stronger position to buy, and you’ll feel more confident of your limitations when making an offer. You’ll be able to show sellers that you are a serious buyer and have the required finances to purchase the property. Once you know how much home you can afford, you can perform your home search based on your pre-approval amount or less.


Plan ahead…

It is crucial to determine how long you think you will be living in the property you are about to buy. It is pointless to buy a studio flat knowing you wish to start a family soon. Similarly, if your job or your financial circumstances are in any way to become unstable in the near future, make sure you will be covered financially.


Find a Diligent Agent

Once you know how much you can spend, and what your planned future holds, you are ready to begin your search for an agent. Some buyers choose to first select their agent before doing any of the above. This might be a wise choice in many cases, as if you have the right agent by your side, you are covered in all areas.


Your agent can help guide you through the financing part of buying a home and will have a better handle on the market. They will represent your interests and keep a constant eye out for newly listed homes you might love. Look for an agent who is educated and who has lived in the area for a long time, knows the market, and who is knowledgeable about problems with potential homes and who’s invested in educating you about how to buy a home.


Where You Would Like to Live

If you aren’t sure about your specific location, spend some time in the areas you’re interested in at different times of the day to get a feel for the area, for instance visit during  rush hour and at night time. Consider what you would prefer: an older, more established area, or a newer one? Do you like communities with plenty of activity or a secluded cul-de-sac with more privacy? Would you like to live in a gated community or are you prepared to trade some security for your independence?


To some extent, the answers to these questions will help you decide where you should start looking, but you also need to consider whether these neighbourhoods are within easy reach of work, schools, public transport, medical services, shopping and entertainment facilities.


Market Research

The statement “Knowledge is power” applies multiple times to the process of buying property.  A level-headed understanding of the property market, will give you an advantage.


Once you have chosen your suburbs to buy in, take your time to learn more about that area. What is the price of homes there? Does this fall within your range? Is there potential for solid capital growth? Browse the online listings in and around your budget, go to open houses, and depending on what’s important to you get to know the neighbourhoods, find out about schools, crime/safety and traffic.


Your Current Housing

It might seem very unappealing to a seller if your offer is dependent on you selling your current house, as they have no idea how quickly or easily it will be to sell. It is advisable to sell your current home before you seriously start looking to buy a new one. That would mean possibly needing to rent a storage unit for your belongings and find provisional housing.


What Features Do You Require?

You will need to decide on the features which are required in order to meet your family and lifestyle needs. Make a careful list of the things they would regard as essential and non-negotiable, for both your current circumstances, as well as your future plans.


How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? Make decisions around a home office or a granny flat, how much parking is required, and whether or not you need a large garden for their children and pets. This will make it easier for the real estate agent working in your chosen area to help you find your ideal home, and not waste anyone’s time showing you unsuitable properties.


Sectional Title or Full Title?

Sectional title units are less maintenance intensive for homeowners. All exterior maintenance of the property and the complex are taken care of by the body corporate, however, this will require the homeowner to pay a levy or monthly association fee to cover services and repairs within the development. On the other hand, full title homes come with more privacy and the freedom to add on or renovate without requiring permission from the body corporate. Along with the freedom comes the full financial responsibility for all maintenance.


House hunting is a learning experience and buyers need to take into account that there is no such thing as the perfect house. Ultimately you want to find that home that incorporates the things that are most important to you.


Be water wise

Gardens are an enormous contributor towards a home’s curb appeal, a term which has been around for centuries. One could imagine that as real estate trends change, this might have as well, but it is still very much a huge determining factor when buying a home.


The busier we are, the less time we have, the more our attention span decreases, leaving visual aspects a primary element in today’s busy lifestyle. Just look at your social platforms or how general marketing & communication has changed – photos are key, and that is true in property as well. A well-established and maintained garden is always considered an asset, unfortunately not everyone has the time to tend to a garden, and with recent water restrictions it’s not always possible.


Statistics show that the demand for water wise properties equipped with boreholes, smaller lawn areas or with small gardens has escalated. Online searches for “borehole water” and “eco estates”’ have also increased steadily. “The prolonged drought, especially in the Cape, has home buyers thinking twice about the choices they make when buying property. Homeowners that have an alternative water source or low water consumption on their property definitely have an excellent selling point, not only do buyers hope to conserve water, they are also hoping to reduce their bills” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Buyers have become more informed when making property purchases and are ensuring they have some sustainability in their homes; it is not only in the sales sector but in rentals as well. Landlords are starting to invest in implementing rainwater-harvesting systems and adding water wise indigenous plants, considering artificial lawns, and water and electricity saving mechanisms. This ensures that they offer tenants the opportunity to live in a place where the utilities are more controlled and properties equipped with these elements are more marketable.


Water wise gardening

In the past having a lush green garden was no problem, this is not the case anymore and we need to ensure we can adapt to still deliver a pretty picture but while saving water. We look at garden trends we can expect to see this year, to help create a water efficient garden.

  • Lawns guzzle plenty of water, so some consideration should be given to if you really need one. Reduce its size or remove the lawn completely and replace it with paving, decorative stones, ground cover, gravel, pebble paths, succulents or a mix of all, which will provide inexpensive and low maintenance solutions. If you keep some lawn, don’t mow it too short, as this lets the roots dry out quicker. For smaller areas artificial grass can be used.
  • Replace all plants that need plenty of water with low water users. Look for plants that store water such as succulents and aloes. Plant a xeriscape succulent garden – xeriscaping is a landscaping style and method that was developed in arid areas that uses a lot of stone and a succulent plants. A xeriscape is very low maintenance garden and will actually die from over watering. Remember to go indigenous, planting what occurs naturally in your area – exotic plants often need more water.
  • Use mulch to stop moisture escaping, preferably organic, such as pine needles, bark, and straw or wood chips. Apply a 5cm-thick layer to soil that’s already moist. Check that water is able to penetrate; simply loosening the mulch can improve its porosity, reapply periodically.
  • Build a water conserving rock garden, which can take many different forms and can be a great way to showcase different and unique plants. Rock gardens can be designed with shade or sun tolerant plants. When selecting plants consider choosing plants with the same sun, water, and soil requirements. Ground covers can create a cascading or trailing effect; succulents thrive in hot, dry sites and high elevation wildflowers can create a beautiful bloom effect.
  • Check whether your garden has bore water and whether a simple spore and pump can be installed to access it.
  • Install a grey water system to capture and recycle water from baths, showers and washing machines. Make sure you use cleaning products that are safe for garden use. You’ll also need a booster pump to operate the irrigation system and have your grey water connected and filtered in to the irrigation system.
  • Don’t waste rainwater; harvest it from the roof, the driveway and patios. Direct it into water tanks or reservoirs which can be hidden underground.
  • Install a water wise irrigation system preferably fitted with a controller, soil moisture sensor and rain sensor. This ensures that plants will only get water when they need it.
  • Resurface driveways, yards and paths with porous surfaces or paving blocks and plastic grid systems filled with plants.
  • To save water, change your swimming pool into a wetland pool which can be used to water the garden during periods of drought.


Even with the blessing of the needed rain, it is still going to take the country some time to restore itself, and even if we were to reach this point, being water wise will always remain a positive point. In the long-term, small changes could save you money and ensure your property is always market -ready and appealing to buyers.

 A Smart Investment: Property in Education Zones

One of the biggest decisions for a parent is deciding which school their children will one day attend. Some start researching their children’s education institutions from birth – or even before. The competition for space in good schools is increasing every year, so much so that some parents are on the waiting list before they even fall pregnant.


“There is a tremendous demand for homes close to good schools or universities, as properties in these zones tend to hold their value much better in tough economic times. Buyers that have kids will often migrate and be drawn to these areas and are likely prepared to pay a premium for these properties” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Education zones have also become a popular consideration for many people who don’t have kids as they will purchase property as a buy-to-let investment option. Investing in a school / varsity district will mean that the properties are easy to rent out. This high demand yields a higher rental income, and the rental periods are usually longer as the families will most likely wish for their child to complete their schooling career before relocating.  “Interest in student housing has become increasingly popular over the years with the demand growing more and more as urban areas extend to, what used to be, outlying areas and travelling becomes ever more difficult with relation to fuel prices and transport costs” Craig notes.


Buying a house is usually for the long haul, so having an education institution in your neighborhood can boost your property’s value. However it is important that you understand with the many benefits, there come some nuisances that cannot be avoided. We take a look at some of the benefits as well as the possible negatives of owning property in an education zone:


The Benefits:

  • Future planning – you will not have to worry about moving closer to a school when your children reach school-going age.
  • Higher property values – if the home is in a good school zone, the higher your resale value will be when the time comes to sell your house.
  • Easy to sell or rent -homes close to schools tend to have a constant demand, so if you choose to sell or rent your home down the line, finding a buyer or tenant will be much easier.
  • Safe neighbourhood – areas with schools generally tend to be safer to live in as they are well monitored and inhabited by people that are as concerned with safety /security as you are.
  • Child friendly environment – kids will have more time and opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. Being able to walk to these areas is a plus, especially for working parents with multiple children.
  • Time saving – eliminates wasted time and sitting in traffic.
  • Cost saving – the expense of driving to and from school ads up, living close to school decreases extra fuel costs.


Take into consideration:

  • Traffic – expect increased traffic and noise of idling cars when parents drop kids off and collect them again at the end of the day.
  • Parking – parents might park in front of your house while waiting for their kids at pick-up or drop-off time as well as when there are school events occurring.
  • Noise – you might hear kids practicing their sport on a weekly basis after school and on weekends. Depending on the proximity, you might even hear the school bell ringing between classes and kids during playing break times.
  • Loitering – if your house is extremely close to the school, scholars might loiter around your house while waiting to be picked up. They might wreak havoc with graffiti, noise, and other teenage up-to-no-good activities.
  • Degrading of the school – there is no guarantee that a school will remain a good school down the line, it may decline or even close. This is more of a concern if you plan to stay in the home a long time.


“It is always worthwhile exploring ones options. Speak to an area specialist, who will be able to advise you on past area trends and statistics, as well as assist with predicting what the market could be doing in the next few years” Craig advised. Remember that this is your largest asset, and you need to ensure you make the right choice.

Engel & Völkers find Strategic Partner in KZN Dolphin Coast

By Chantalle Bell


The start of the New Year saw fresh new horizons for Engel & Völkers Southern Africa with the sale of the KZN Dolphin Coast licence. This territory which was acquired by husband and wife team, Karien and Stephen Hunter covers the Dolphin Coast area, stretching from the Ohlange (Umhlanga) River to Zinkwazi, north of Ballito.

Karien has over 30 years’ experience as a property attorney, and has been in the Ballito area for the last 12 years. Needless to say, she is the perfect candidate for the new licence and we are assured that she will make a great success with this new venture.


The firm, AMC Hunter Inc. was founded in 1987 by Karien, who still heads up the practice today. In 2017 Hunter Inc. celebrated their 30th anniversary, firmly established as one of the leading law firms in KwaZulu-Natal, specialising in property and commercial law. Karien has invested innumerable hours in the training of real estate agents in the property industry, over the years. She now looks forward to training and developing her own Area Partners on the North Coast.

Karien Hunter holds many accolades, she was the co-winner of the Business Woman of the Year Awards in KwaZulu-Natal in 2007, and was one of three finalists for the Women in Property Awards (WPN Awards) in South Africa in 2008, amongst a few, and is well connected on the KZN North Coast.

Although she has been involved with many real estate agencies she has always been drawn to the E&V brand. She was an avid reader of the weekly newsletters and the brand really appealed to her. She was approached by Craig Hutchison CEO, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa with the opportunity to get involved in the brand, and it was a perfect match from the get-go.

She believes in quality Area Partners, selling quality property, big or small. Karien trusts the key to success is to employ character and the rest will follow. She has a great love for people, their growth and development.

“I always hear estate agencies boasting about their systems which are all very good, but after my intro to the E&V system I am convinced more than ever that E&V does have the best available on the market, even from an attorney perspective – it makes the transactions interlink so well” Karien shared.


“Looking ahead, the KZN residential market looks set to be the most vibrant this year, at least in terms of potential house price growth and return on investment” says Craig Hutchison CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. “The North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is the new ‘Cape Town’ when it comes to property.  It’s about a preferred location because of the many opportunities for business and local economic growth. We wish Karien and her team the best of luck and all the success in their new venture going forward” Craig concluded.


If you are looking to invest in a second home, relocate or to retire at the coast, we are able to offer our exceptional service. Our culture has become the trademark of the Engel & Völkers and the access to international customers and clients through our global market network offers an extended reach with European flair.


The licence area runs from Umhlanga river northwards suburbs include:

Umdloti Beach, Newsel Beach (Umdloti), Selection Beach (Umdloti), La Mercy, Westbrook, Tongaat Beach, Tongaat Central, Zimbali, Ballito, Deepdene, Deepdale, Compensation Beach, Seaward Estate, Beverley Hills Estate, Salt Rock, Shakas Rock, Sheffield Estate, Willard Beach, Brettenwood Estate, Dunkirk, Mount Richmore Village, Blythedale Beach, Palm Lakes, Princes Grant Golf Estate, Tinley Manor, Zinkwazi, Manor Estates, Umhlali Golf Estate, Wakenshaw Estate, Stanger Central, Stanger Heights, Stanger Manor, Belvedere (Tongaat), Desainager (Tongaat), Mount Moreland, Sandfield (Tongaat).


You can contact Karien on 083 449 2969 or email Karien.Hunter@engelvoelkers.com.


About the Area:

KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, also known as the Dolphin Coast, it is a desirable strip of coastline. A beautiful playground of warm waters, incredible waves, and glorious beaches set alongside fields of sugarcane in a part of the world endowed with humid and warm weather almost throughout the year – this why the Dolphin Coast is one of the province’s main attractions.


No longer just a family holiday hotspot, the lifestyle of relaxation and tranquillity, along with excellent schools and stylish shopping centres just minutes away, the North Coast represents one of the most desirable parts of KZN in which to live. The North Coast is renowned for the Golden Mile, natural indigenous forests, mangrove swamps and the promenade walked by locals at sundown. Residence and visitors are attracted to the friendly village atmosphere, family experiences such as beach days, animal farms, mountain bike trails through the sugar cane fields or a few rounds of golf at one of many excellent North Coast golf courses. The North Coast is primarily recognised by two holiday towns named Ballito and uMhlanga. Ballito is where you will find Sibaya Casino, King Shaka International Airport and the beautiful Zimbali estate, while the upmarket uMhlanga has plenty to offer, from luxury estates such as Hawaan Forest Estate to the uShaka marine theme park.


Area Trends and Activity:

The North Coast has become the hub of property development and is rapidly growing, particularly gated estates. The infrastructure upgrades and various blue chip investments such as the Oceans and Dube Port is attracting a number of residential developers, corporates and retirees seeking a relaxed lifestyle in a seaside location that is also conveniently close to offices, shops, medical facilities and entertainment venues.


Average Property Value:

In the North Coast area, homes currently range in a price from R 2.8 million in greater Ballito to as high as R 70 million in lifestyle estates. The average price for a full title, mid-level home is about R 3, 15 million. According to Lightstone, full title properties and sectional title units have increased in value, although sectional title properties more so by approximately 6% in the Ballito area. People are prepared to pay a premium for the estate lifestyle with the benefits of this relaxation and beach.


Typical Property Type:

​The North Coast offers a number of gated communities and luxury estates with sensual architecture, whilst it is also a place with family homes, secure complexes, sought-after retail and office space.

Is sustainable living the future of Real Estate?

Is sustainable living the future of Real Estate?

By Chantalle Bell

Sustainability is currently a hot topic in the home and construction sector. In light of the progressing climate change and shrinking resources worldwide, it’s one of the most important issues to consider. Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand on natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability.


“Often the thought of being more energy efficient makes one think of expensive contraptions, modern interiors or fittings, and a lot of extra work to make the home more eco-friendly, however this does not need to be the case. A green home is attainable with a few simple adjustments, while the results may not be physically visible all the time, doing your bit in your home on a daily basis is not as difficult or expensive as you may think, and can even save you money in the long run” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


We all know that climate change, global warming, depletion of ozone layer and resource depletion are real and their impact on human and animal lives can be devastating. By altering our lifestyle, it gives us an opportunity to adopt actions for sustainable living that can help to reduce the environmental impact.


Eco-friendly housing is the future of real estate

The key to encouraging more green building is to educate homeowners. If they decide to go green, they can have a more durable, more energy- and water-efficient and healthier home for about the same cost as a conventional home and can benefit greatly by gradually starting to implement green features. As the cost of living increases, and our society becomes more environmentally conscious, eco-friendly homes will see an increase in demand.


Johann du Toit, Area Partner from Engel & Völkers Stellenbosch, has already had first-hand experience with the advantages of green homes with clients from Sweden who had had a selection of properties available to them. In light of the current water shortage in Cape Town, they opted for a particular property in Stellenbosch, after being presented with a number of alternatives, as it had its own supply of tested and approved water for human consumption, a swimming pool running from borehole water and a solar system supplying the hot water. “It shows that having more eco-friendly sustainable homes have become strengths in effecting the choices made by tourists as well as for buyers. We believe that this will add a handsome premium to the price of accommodation and real estate” says Craig.


Green Estates

An increasing number of people are deciding to purchase green homes; as everyone enjoys the savings on utility bills, making green homes a wise investment and also providing better durability, energy savings and water savings. If you’re selling your house, highlighting your eco-friendly features can be a major selling point to potential buyers.


Kobus Taljaard, Engel & Völkers, Licence Partner from the Winelands region says that developers and management of two estates Val de Vie and Pearl Valley have been very pro-active and have turned the negative water issue into a positive. Both these estates have disconnected municipal water and have become totally self-sufficient from underground water supplies on the banks of the Berg River and grey water purification. The switch over took place just before Christmas when the newly installed purification plant took effect – there will not be a day zero in these two estates – at least not in the very near future. “Water restrictions still apply as enforced elsewhere in the province, but the fact that the taps will not run dry is used as a marketing positive. New development phases will continue as planned and property prices will not be affected” concluded Kobus.


Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom also has quite a few estates implementing green features, one such estate is de Land Estate, which has dedicated herb gardens & fruit orchards. Carl Venter, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom has been researching green and energy efficient living since 2010. “This year, our Engel & Völkers Green Projects division will be building the first energy efficient home on Lekwena Wildlife Estate. Keep an eye out for the process as the house will be monitored to calculate the efficiency rate, providing valuable information for clients looking to make their own homes more energy efficient-definitely an industry first in Potchefstroom” Carl added.

Properties which are green and have water saving systems and boreholes will be more desirable going forward and will be priced accordingly.



Turn your own home into a green zone

Replace your shower heads: The simplest, cheapest and quickest way of saving water is by switching your regular shower head to a low flow, water efficient shower head, this will half your shower water consumption. Shortening your showers, and turning the taps off while washing yourself can save a considerable amount. By placing a bucket in the shower you can catch your grey water, which allows you to save and recycle water by reusing it in your garden.


Upgrade your toilet cistern: Older cisterns can use between 9-12 litres per flush, while newer cisterns use about 6 litres. Installing a cistern with dual-flush, that provides a button for a long flush and a button for a short flush, will save on water. Alternatively, place a plastic bottle or brick into the cistern to displace the water this will allow less water to flush out whenever the handle is pulled.


Install a timer on your geysers: Heating water is one of an average household’s biggest electricity spends. Install a digital timer on your geyser, so you can program in exactly what times you want it to turn on and off. Alternatively run in tandem with your regular geyser a system to pre-warm the water that goes into the main geyser, so that it’s not constantly heating up the water intake from cold. This could be done through an actual solar geyser, or just through a home-rigged system of black pipes coiled on the roof, warmed by the sun.


Solar panels: Use the sun’s energy to power your home. Solar power can be used to heat water and provide electricity for lighting and appliances. This works best when the panels are exposed to as much light as possible on a daily basis. It is a once-off expense that keeps producing results for years.


Use energy saving lighting: LED light bulbs are becoming more affordable now, but not everybody can afford to switch over the whole house to LED lighting in one go, even though the energy saving makes it worthwhile in the long – term. Start by replacing bulbs in the most used areas, the kitchen, the hall light that you leave on all night, and gradually work up to converting the whole house.


Start to recycle all grey water: Grey water is the water that has already been used around the home used to irrigate the garden.  When using grey water, be careful not to store it for too long as it is particularly susceptible to bacteria and gas production, rather, let it run directly from the bath or washing machine into the garden or collect it in a bucket and use it immediately. The reuse of grey water may take a little preparation and forethought, however, the economic benefits as well as the enormous advantages to your immediate environment, it is certainly worth the preparation.


Green your walls and roof: Having plants growing on your walls and roof has so many beneficial effects. They insulate the building, prevent noise pollution, emit healthful oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.

Engel & Völkers Pretoria New East – Who is behind the door?

This January Engel & Völkers Pretoria New East celebrated their 6th Birthday as well as their 2nd year under the helm of the new Licence Partner, James Verwey. Chantalle Bell, Feature Writer of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa had a chat with him to gain some insight into his life, his interests, his outlook on the business and industry, and what plans he and his Team Leader, Mariëtte Schoeman, have for the future.


The professional side of James

James spent his childhood in Stellenbosch and later matriculated from Menlo Park High School Pretoria, where-after he returned to Stellenbosch to study Law at the University of Stellenbosch. He never practiced Law and opted to take up a unique career opportunity with Toyota South Africa as one of their first Graduate Management Trainees. His career grew rapidly over the 10 year period he spent with them and received great exposure and experience in the corporate business world.

Wanting to revisit his plans for the future, the next year was spent on a sabbatical traveling all over Europe and Southeast Asia, also opening his eyes for international opportunities. During these travels, he got exposed to Dubai and when a great opportunity there presented itself; he decided to join the Toyota and Lexus group of companies in Dubai as Marketing Manager. After another 10 years, he decided to semi-retire back to South Africa and purchased a guest house in Paarl, which he still owns today.

Whilst operating the guest house, another major automotive group in the Middle East approached him to head up a new company in Abu Dhabi, Premier Motors. Premier Motors is the sole agents for premium brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford. James filled this position for 9 years and it grew into one of the largest and most profitable motor companies in the United Arab Emirates. After almost 20 years in Dubai, James decided to return permanently to South Africa at the end of 2014.


James at home

James is married to Irina, who is originally from Siberia in Russia, and whom he met in Dubai 9 years ago. Irina is very fond of South Africa, particularly Pretoria, which is where they decided to call home upon their return from Dubai. Irina has a passion for gardening and loves to experiment with various flowers and plants, in addition to her freelance career as a Fashion Designer. They visit France annually, where Irina also sells most of her designs. They love traveling, both local holidays as well as exploring unique places. James has a son of 32 (James Junior) who resides in Namibia, which is also one of their favourite destinations.

As for hobbies and in addition to his passion for the real estate business, James enjoys playing golf and to spend time with his family and friends.


James & Property

As we have now gathered, James does not let an opportunity pass by, and clearly he is not one to sit and simply enjoy a quiet life. James kept in touch with a friend, Debbie Stevenson, Licence Partner of E&V Broadacres. Not too long into his “retirement”, he phoned her up to gain some insight into the property industry, what E&V was all about and what the business model entailed.

From here on things moved rather quickly. James met with Craig Hutchison, the CEO of Engel & Völkers and as fate would have it, the Pretoria New East territory was available. Within a month the deal was sealed and he took over the Silver Lakes Licence in January 2016. Since then James has acquired 2 further licences for the adjacent areas to have a diverse and large footprint in Pretoria New East, stretching from Moreletta Park down to Silver Lakes.

The property industry seems to run in James’ blood. His Mom (88) and his “best friend” owned real estate company called Gem Properties in partnership with two friends. So it comes as no surprise that when James registered his business, he named it GemProp Real Estate (Pty) Ltd t/a E&V Pretoria New East.


Outlook on the industry

James believes that even with the current economic climate, investing in property often presents unique opportunities for investors and buyers alike, whether residential or commercial. James started investing in property at a young age, with help from his parents. He convinced his parents to purchase a townhouse in Stellenbosch; at that stage it was purchased at R 18,000 and today it is worth R 3 million – proof that there is just no investment that grows as much as property does. Over the years, he has built a diverse property portfolio, reflecting his belief and confidence in property investments.

When asked about his outlook on the real estate industry James says it’s a very exciting industry, challenging but rewarding in the sense that knowing you and your team are fulfilling people’s expectations and dreams. It is very rewarding when you exceed clients expectations in finding their perfect property, whether a rental, a first property or their dream home.


What happens behind the doors at E&V New East?

About 7 months ago James’ team was joined by Team Leader, Mariëtte Schoeman. James says since Mariëtte joined, a new energy has been evident in the office, professional sales and marketing activities have increased dramatically and there are structured planning processes in place. James’ role is more strategic and supportive by nature and he leaves the day to day operational running of the business in Mariëtte’s capable hands. Mariëtte is also supported by Lyle Landsman, who has been with the operation since inception.

Mariëtte joined the team as she saw the opportunity for growth. Her connection to real estate stems from a historical interest in property as she comes from a commercial property management, residential sales and rental background. She has a keen business sense as she had her own successful landscaping business for 20 years, which she later sold to join the real estate industry.

Within the real estate sector she worked for a renowned estate agency for 8 years and completed her NQF4. Once this was mastered she was ready for a new challenge and she went into Commercial Property Management where she started her studies towards NQF5 & 6 in Commercial Property Management.

Mariëtte joined E&V as Team Leader at the Waterkloof Office where she spent 2 years before joining James’ team as their Team Leader, where she is currently busy with her NQF5 Residential Real Estate.

We asked her why she originally joined E&V and she said “because it’s an international brand and she liked the way the business plan is executed”. As the Pretoria New East office incorporates 3 licence areas, Mariëtte feels the challenge has great development capacity, both from a career as well as an investment perspective. Mariëtte has been given the opportunity and is working towards becoming an equity partner in Gemprop.

Mariëtte states the one thing she has learnt from the industry is that buying and selling property is a very personal and emotional experience and should not just be seen as solely a business transaction.

“The most enjoyable part about the industry is that no two days are the same; however as with anything else in life, it also comes with its challenges as every client is different and presents her and her team with their own unique challenges. Meeting monthly targets and continuously keeping the team motivated under pressure at all times are definitely challenging, but also very rewarding at the same time” she added.


What makes a winning team?

Both James and Mariëtte agree that in order to have the ideal and perfect team, the team must have good core values, which are well defined. These core values are also a critical component in the recruitment process – “A Team goes as the Leaders go”.

This, together with a good team spirit and support culture, forms the basis of their operations in striving for excellence. The management team developed an integrated business plan for the next 5 years, all encompassing, from strategic goals, corporate values and SWOT analysis, to budgeting and detailed action plans to execute the finer details of each business activity. The core values are shared with all the staff regularly to ensure all are aligned and positive in achieving their goals.

When asked what would her advice be to someone who is not in the industry and wants to join Mariëtte says, “Join a company that shares and offers you the required knowledge, tools and support to be able to be successful agent”. With all that in place there is a slim chance that an agent will be unsuccessful and then the potential to earn a very good income becomes a reality.


Tell us about the area

Pretoria New East is a very diverse area ranging from first time homeowners, developments and plots, to exclusive estates (e.g. Woodhill, Mooikloof and Silver Lakes) in both price and lifestyles. The long-term plan is to have the correct outlets, agents and infrastructure to support the activities with satellite shops. The end goal is to dominate the Pretoria New East in terms of sales, awareness and reputation. This will remain the main focus, backed up by a profitable and premium rental division to compliment the core business.

Exciting times lay ahead for the Pretoria New East area in the next 10-15 years. In anticipation of this, investors and developers are buying plots and rezoning them for residential housing.  Major metro plans for the east is on the cards including a second highway which will be accessed from the N4 through a new R90 million road – the PWV17 – which will link the N4 and the R21, as well as the planned road upgrade for the N4 to link to Graham road directly.


What does the future hold?

Even although their team has doubled over the last 7 months, the focus and priority for the year ahead remains on recruitment of agents for all 3 of their licence areas, both qualified agents and intern agents.

James is of the opinion the business is still in a growth phase and requires further exposure to dominate their licence areas. To achieve this, they again need to double the current team – property sales and rental agents, as well as support staff. This is an integral part of the business plan to dominate their market.

If you are looking for a new challenge to take on this year, why not call Mariëtte for a confidential interview on 079 874 5572 and explore the options they have available.

Tips for a sound night’s sleep

A comfortable bed doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting the quality sleep you need; the most important item for a good sleep experience is your mattress. It has been shown that we spend approximately a 1/3 of our lives sleeping, so it is fair to say it is a valuable part of our lives. It is the only time our body gets to repair and recharge itself for the next day’s activities, making it vital to choose the right mattress to feel rejuvenated and not lethargic when waking up.


“Investing in a good quality mattress that is perfect for you is significant as it could be quite costly, but if done right, be a valuable investment for years to come. With all the choices available, it could become quite overwhelming, so arm yourself with knowledge before purchasing, do not be afraid to test and to ask what you need to know” notes Tihara Baker, Relationship Manager for Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


If you’re in the market for a new mattress, here is a list of things you should keep in mind when buying:



Each mattress is unique and can last for as long as it is cared for. If you treat your mattress properly it could easily last up to 7 – 10 years, however this is merely dependent on its maintenance and use.


Best brands for longest lifespan: It’s impossible to give a generic answer as to what brand of mattress will have the longest lifespan and be the best for you. It is very much based on the type of mattress you prefer or require due to health reasons, and your own personal comfort preference. Well-known brands include Simmons, Cloud Nine and Sealy.


Best type for longest lifespan: Any mattress that is used more frequently will have a shorter lifespan. So for example in your spare room you can maybe buy a cheaper mattress as it will be used less. For the main bedroom, buy a good quality as it needs to last longer. As a basic rule of thumb, air and innerspring have the shortest, memory foam offer mid length, whilst latex types are known to last the longest. However, you need to keep in mind that it will still need to be taken care of and cleaned regularly to ensure optimal a longer lifespan.


Read the instructions: Most manufacturers provide specific information on how to care for your mattress. It is always best to follow their guidelines and to understand what the limits are for optimal results and to save you from spending extra money in the future.


Protect your mattress: Mattress protectors are the best way to keep your mattress free from dust mites, bacteria, bed bugs and to create waterproof barriers. These covers are great especially when potty-training kids, and for people who tend to sweat in their sleep, to ward off bacteria getting through to the mattress as they are simple to remove and wash.


Beds are not trampolines: If you or your kids want to use your bed as a trampoline, this will seriously damage your matrass. Jumping on the mattress can do a lot of damage to its coil unit, comfort layers and foundation. The mattress will become too soft and compressed in no time at all and will leave you with a creaky and sagging surface.


Know where to sit: Avoid repeatedly sitting in the same spot for prolonged periods of time. For example don’t sit on the same edge of your bed to get dressed or tie your shoes, as doing so may eventually cause sagging or a weakened edge your mattress could lose its structure prematurely.


The Base: A base provides the best foundation for your mattress and ensures that it stays supportive and comfortable for years to come. Most manufacturers recommend buying a base and a mattress as a unit to ensure optimal performance.


Rotation: While most new mattress models offer a no-flip design, it’s a good idea to give your mattress a clockwise turn every 3 months to ensure even wear and avoid lumps and bump. Rotating it should be preventive maintenance, not something you try to do later to fix an already uncomfortable mattress.


Cleaning: Launder your sheets and mattress protection weekly in hot water to remove irritants like pollen and dust mites. Stains or spills should always be treated with caution – use slightly soapy water and a soft wash cloth to gently blot, never rub the affected area. Avoid harsh chemicals, as they may damage the foams and fibres.


Memory foam

  • Consists of at least 5cm of memory foam, over at least 15 cm of support foam
  • Min 10 years warranty, if kept ventilated, clean, and rotated


  • Has the unique ability to conform to your body while dispersing your weight evenly throughout the bed. It improves circulation, making it ideal for achy joints, morning pains and restless sleepers
  • Resistant to mould, bacteria, bed bugs, dust mites and many types of allergens
  • Less prone to sagging


  • Retain heat, restrict body movement
  • Lack bounce, and have extended break-in periods
  • Fairly expensive



  • A variety of steel coil support systems consisting of springs connected into a single unit or individually wrapped pocketed coils
  • Most likely will need replacing within 7-8 years


  • Consumer familiarity and widely available
  • Various firmness and comfort options to choose from
  • Most affordable mattress type on the market


  • Heavy and hard to move in order to clean or flip
  • Movements are distributed through the whole surface, if you sleep with a partner, you will feel their movement
  • Because of their underlying layers of wool and fibre, it provides the perfect environment for dust mites to breed without being disturbed.



  • Combining two or more different types of support systems, typically sophisticated memory foams with an advanced innerspring system
  • Poly foam is cheap and degrades quickly, so if the bed uses a lot in its base foam, the overall lifespan of the mattress will be shorter than the innerspring


  • Reduces the motion transfer that can occur with tossing and turning
  • Cool sleeping surface
  • Less expensive than memory foam mattresses, making them a good choice for budget-conscious shoppers


  • Initial off gassing odour
  • Shorter lifespan due to large amount of poly foam
  • Heavy and difficult to move



  • These are the crème de la crème, and tick all the boxes for quality and longevity. All-latex mattresses consist of all-natural, blended, or synthetic latex.
  • One of the most durable, resilient mattress materials which can last up to 15 years


  • Extremely comfortable – this is due to the natural springiness of latex
  • Promotes pain relief and is an ideal choice for those with back pain or joint pain
  • A huge advantage of latex mattresses is their ability to promote proper spine alignment


  • Tend to be more expensive than a cheap spring coil mattress or polyurethane (PU) foam mattress
  • Somewhat heavier than many other types



  • Constructed of different weights and densities of petrochemical-based flexible polyurethane foams or latex rubber foams.
  • Low density foam has a short lifespan where higher density foam means more support and more durability.


  • Limited heat retention
  • Adequate motion isolation
  • Affordable


  • Too firm for some
  • Relatively thin
  • Below-average edge support


Pillow Top 

  • Additional padding sewn into the top of the mattress. This padding can consist of regular foam, memory foam, latex, fibrefill, cotton or wool
  • Can last up to 5-8 years


  •  Above average initial comfort
  • Tops that include memory foam tend to have exceptional pain-relief potential
  • Conforming ability


  • Not being able to flip the mattress is one of the biggest objections
  • Heat retention
  • The pillow top part doesn’t last as long as the rest of the mattress



The most reassuring thing about buying a bed or mattress from a reputable retailer is the guarantee and warranty that comes with it. It is great to be comfortable in the knowledge that your investment is protected.


For example, if you have bought a bed with a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty, the first 2 years (depending on the manufacturer’s terms), you will be reimbursed in full for any defective workmanship, this is known as a guarantee. The guarantee covers poor workmanship and/or material defects only. The manufacturer will either replace or repair your bed in accordance with their guarantee policy.


Tihara explains that your warranty comes into effect as soon as your bed’s guarantee period has elapsed. After this time period, you will be asked to pay a pro-rata cost for any repairs for the remaining 8 years, this is called a warranty. Warranty periods differ between all manufacturers, anywhere from between 1 to 25 years.



Rotating and flipping your mattress is not the only important thing it needs to last its full lifespan. Mattresses are home to bacteria, germs, mould and mildew, that can slowly eat away at the mattress materials and could later also start causing allergies. “It is advisable to have it cleaned professionally from time to time, though cleaning it yourself now and again is better than not at all” Tihara added. It’s very important when you clean your mattress to do it with proper cleaning products that it can withstand:


Step 1: Vacuum it

Vacuum all the overlapping, narrow paths and the sides of your mattress, to get rid of any dirt namely pet hair and dust that’s accumulated over time.


Step 2: Get the stains out

Mattresses typically acquire 3 types of stains: blood, urine, and any other fluids.


  • Dried blood stains can be treated by making a paste of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (3%) mixed with 1 tbsp. of liquid dish soap and table salt. Lightly spread this onto the stain and allow it to dry before scraping the residue off. Dab at any remaining stain with a white cloth dipped into hydrogen peroxide, rotating the cloth as the stain lifts off. (Using a white cloth prevents dye transfer from the cloth to the mattress).


  • Urine stains dissolve 3 tbsp. baking soda in 236ml of hydrogen peroxide and add a drop or two of liquid dish soap. Dab this solution onto the spot. (Do NOT drench your mattress). If the stain persists, wait until the area is dry then whisk together 3 tbsp. dry laundry detergent powder and 1 tbsp. water to make a dry foam. Lightly spread this on the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Scrape the dried paste away with a spoon. Use a white cloth dipped into hydrogen peroxide to remove any stubborn bits of paste. Vacuum the area.


  • Other bodily fluids (vomit, etc.) can be removed by blotting the stain with undiluted, unscented household ammonia. (Do NOT drench your mattress).Wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth and sprinkle the spot with baking soda to neutralize the odour and pull out any lingering moisture. Let this dry then vacuum the area thoroughly.


Step 3: Deodorize it

Over time sweat can build up. To rid your mattress of foul odours, sprinkle it well with baking soda and gently rub it in with a scrub brush, so it gets into the mattress fabric. Let the baking soda sit for at least 10 min, and then sprinkle another light layer of baking soda over the entire surface and let it sit for a couple of hours. It will absorb any excess odour or liquid from the stain removal process, and leave your mattress smelling fresh and clean. Vacuum the area thoroughly.


Step 4: Flip mattress and repeat steps 1-3




  • How much can you afford? Knowing your budget is a great help, but saving a little more for a superior brand or type of mattress is a better plan. Rather opt for a 10 year long-term investment than having to purchase a new one every 3 years.
  • What size do you need? If you are buying a complete new bed including the base, you must remember to measure your room as you also need to make sure you have enough space, not only for the bed to fit, but also to move around the bed freely. The ideal comfortable space around the bed should be 90cm.
  • Check the warranty and guarantee. This differs from manufacturer to manufacturer obviously the longer the warranty, the better.
  • What type do you prefer? This will depend on your budget, personal requirements and needs as well as your individual comfort preference.
  • Keep your original base in mind. Should you not be buying a complete new bed you will have to find out if your base will it be able to give the mattress of your choice the ultimate support.
  • Keep your weight in mind. A firmer comfort level is generally recommended for individuals of above average weight and build. The recommended mattress for plus-size people should be around 30cm thick; this is because thicker mattresses are able to better contour to the sleeper’s body, providing better pressure relief. Overall, memory foam and latex ranked as the best mattress types over spring beds and typically last years longer.
  • Is the bed long and wide enough for you? Want to know if a mattress is going to be wide enough? Lie down on your back and put your elbows behind your head. Do your elbows touch your partner or stretch past the edge of the mattress? If yes, then you probably need a bigger size. A good mattress fit should give you at least 15cm of space at the foot of the bed.
    • Firm or soft? Be aware that firm mattresses aren’t always better for your back. Contrary to popular belief, a mattress doesn’t have to be firm to be good for your back – there’s a difference between firm support and a firm feel.
  • Your sleep position is also important:
    • Firm – if you sleep on your stomach, a firm mattress will keep your spine aligned.
    • Medium – best if you sleep on your back, as it’ll provide support for your spine, back and neck while keeping you comfortable.
    • Soft – great for sleeping on your side because it’ll support and contour to your body’s curves.
  • Most importantly don’t dial for your mattress – try before you buy. Whoever will be sleeping on the bed should go shopping for the bed. You really do have to lie down in your usual sleep position and give yourself a few minutes to see if it’s right for you. Turn from side to side, evaluate the support level, and make sure you feel relaxed and comfortable in all positions.


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

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.