Why your property portal search is letting you down

Posted by Kayla Cloete on 19 Nov 18


House hunting
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We are all but a few clicks away from thousands of online property listings of every shape and size. But, after long nights of swiping through listing after listing (and many bottles of wine later), you can’t help but feel as though your perfect match simply does not exist. How can this incredibly disappointing feeling be avoided?

“The best advice I ever received is that the more homes you walk into, the more you realise exactly what you want. When you’re serious about buying, step out from behind your computer screen or mobile device and make contact with an area expert who can guide you through the intricacies of buying, which you’ll soon discover is so much more than just scrolling through pictures. Sometimes buyers don’t know what they want until they see it. The more homes you walk into, the better chance you give yourself of finding that property where you walk in and realise I’m home,” explains Grant Gavin, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Panache.

Over the years, Gavin has come to learn that many buyers start browsing up to two years before they are ready to buy. “Home ownership is so aspirational, and now that you can search homes from your bed on your mobile device, the search often starts long before the buyer is in a position to buy. This is possibly part of the reason why buyers might be struggling to find a property they like. A lot changes in a property market, especially over a longer period of time, and at all times the buyer who is searching online is only ever seeing asking/listing prices, which do not ever reflect the true value of a home. Over-priced listings are all too common, which often leaves buyers falsely believing that they cannot afford the kind of home they’re aspiring towards. At some point, a buyer needs to get real time local knowledge of the market from an area expert who can inform them of actual selling prices rather than asking prices,” Gavin advises.

Building on the idea of discovering what they can truly afford, Gavin advises serious buyers to start the process with a bond originator who can organise pre-approval for a bond and provide guidance around how much you can truly afford. “Get your finances sorted first before you even start your search online. That way you also don’t waste your time searching outside of your price bracket. The worst feeling is to search for a long period, eventually walk into the home of your dreams, have your offer accepted, and after 21 days discover your home loan application is declined.”

Another equally disappointing feeling is falling in love with a property online only to be thoroughly disappointed when you view the property in real life. “Property listings are made to look good on the portals. Professional photographs, editing and Photoshop allows properties to be displayed in their best possible light. There is nothing wrong with that, but buyers should keep this in mind when searching through listings. A reliable property listing will always have a lot of good photos of all rooms and at many different angles and may even include a video. If you see a listing with a small amount of poor-quality pictures, it either speaks to the professionalism of the agent or the quality of the home. The same would apply to a listing with only external photos or photos that are limited to just one or two rooms. When browsing online, buyers should always ask themselves ‘What am I not seeing in these photos?’,” Gavin advises.

Ultimately, Gavin cites emotion as the main reason why many buyers struggle to form attachment to any property when searching online. “I think buyers sometimes rely too much on the visuals and neglect the fact that property is most often bought based on emotion. I’d far rather spend the time walking into more homes than scanning more homes online. When you walk into the home of your dreams, you know it straight away – and quite often it’s a home you might have cast aside based on a list of pre-selected search criteria,” says Gavin.

According to Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, this is a part of the reason that the need for real estate agents will always exist. “There have been a number of online disruptors in our market as of late. But, while these platforms may well have certain draw cards, they simply cannot compete in terms of the personal level of service of professional estate agencies,” he concludes.

To get in touch with a real estate agent who can help you in your search for you dream home, visit our Agent Finder page - http://www.propertynews.com.na/findagent.