As consumers increasingly take to social media to interact and express their comments – both negative and positive, it is clearly evident that brand reputation and integrity is of paramount importance to any business wishing to remain sustainable into the future.

“Which is why, says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, “receiving global recognition as Best Real Estate Agency in South Africa and Africa, and Best Real Estate Agency Website in South Africa and Africa at the recent International Property Awards (IPA) 2017 in Dubai is of key importance to our organisation.

“As this event celebrates the highest levels of achievement by companies operating in all sectors of the property and real estate industry, an International Property Award is a world-renowned mark of excellence. It not only differentiates us as playing a leading role by providing unparalleled service in the marketplace, but also recognises our achievements and innovations in the property industry.”

This is the 12th year that the group has celebrated being South Africa’s most awarded real estate company, achieving Best Estate Agency in South Africa 10 times since 2005 and Best Estate Agency in Africa six times since 2011 at the International Property Awards. Pam Golding Properties now goes forward to compete as the international nominee for Africa against top winners from around the globe in the 2017 IPA ‘World’s Best’ to be announced in London in December.

Offering a full spectrum of property services and concluding over 10 000 transactions per annum, the Pam Golding Property group has a network of over 300 offices in sub-Saharan Africa and internationally, as well as a strategic alliance with one of the world’s largest property groups, Savills plc, with access to its prestigious network of over 600 offices worldwide.

As the entry for the Best Real Estate Agency category is required to be based on one selected office within the organisation, this year Pam Golding Properties focused on its flagship Cape Town Southern Suburbs office in the Western Cape, a region which continues to outperform the other provinces in terms of house price inflation, accounting for just over a quarter of the total value of the country’s housing stock. And from January to July this year, the Cape metro experienced an average year-on-year house inflation growth rate of 12%.

“Today’s buyer and seller needs to have peace of mind and a sense of comfort in their dealings with their real estate agent and agency,” says Dr Golding, “so regardless of the rapid technological advances which are globally transforming the real estate landscape, the client–agent relationship remains critical to the success of the business. Both buyer and seller sees value in the ongoing human interaction that estate agents provide, as the transaction is usually their single biggest asset and the need for credible, professional, expert advice is therefore sensible and prudent and this is where an agent who is knowledgeable, experienced and competent adds real value.”

Says Mimi Nicklin, Pam Golding Properties head of marketing: “Buying and selling can be an intricate, and at times, stressful process. When making a decision regarding who to work with on this journey it is reassuring to know you are working with an agency that commits to being best in class in everything it does. From client service to marketing tools such as the website, Pam Golding Properties is leading in their investment into providing the best quality, technology and methodology for the buyer or seller journey.

“In today’s world buyers are reaching to websites and apps as their first point of call. Our own recent research showed that 82% of first time home buyers and 62% of sellers stated that they would use a website or app as the main platform at the outset of their purchase journey. Given the complex process of finding a home and the competitive context within which we work, having the leading property website to enable more buyers to search more successfully is a key priority for us. Winning such prestigious awards to prove we have succeeded in this sphere is something we are very proud of.”

And, as Nicklin points out, given the amount of time consumers now spend on their social feeds, placing real estate advertising and information on these channels is an obvious choice. This not only helps bring the most up to date information, in real time, to consumers, but allows homes for sale to reach clients when they are engaging with the digital world during their day to day browsing behaviour. “Often an engagement with a home on a social feed will lead directly back to our website, further reinstating the importance of having a leading website for buyers to engage with.

“Our website is a living platform, meaning it never stops improving and changing. We are constantly enhancing the search functionality, the image quality and the listings usability, and currently have at least two innovations in the works that will prove to be totally unique in South Africa today. We have recently launched our new blog which has been built to complement the website with inspiration, information and data-led innovations to both help clients stay at the forefront of trends and changes in the industry, as well as feed their imagination. In addition you will soon see 360 Video added to our site which we believe is a key innovation in aiding consumers search for a home in a totally new way. This will mean buyers can browse homes in detail not seen before, from their phone or laptop, before they even enter the house.”

Nicklin adds that while technology is a critical channel in every shoppable category today, the real estate industry is not a DIY industry as other industries are proving to be. “Clients still demand and require the expertise and skills of an agent to help them navigate the complex home buying or selling process. Although a website or portal may help you narrow down or define your home search criteria, or perhaps give sellers a guide idea to selling values in their area, that same platform will never be able to replace the value of a real life interaction, a conversation, with an expert. Many of our agents have been selling homes in their suburb for over 15 years or more, and a website will never be able to replicate the value of that personal experience, skill set and know-how. Our own research has just provided us with data to show that 78% of sellers think it is important to have an agent in order to sell your property. Technology is here to stay, but so are estate agents!”

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