German real estate com- pany Engel & Völkers is furthering its growth path in South Africa and plans to expand its presence in the country from 40 to 140 loca-tions, while also targeting Africa’s developing economies.
Engel & Völkers Southern Africa head of real estate Craig Hutchison states that the German procedures, systems and professionalism that the company offers was previously lacking in the South African real estate industry, which will help the company with its expansion plans.
“Engel & Völkers is a well-positioned brand and is taking advantage of the upswing in the residential market in South Africa. The company is focusing on the main metropolitan areas, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban,” he says.
Hutchison notes that the first Engel & Völkers branch outside Germany was built in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.
“That was in 2001. The roll-out in the rest of South Africa took place in 2004, with two separate licence partners, one for the Western Cape and the other for the rest of South Africa. Both these licences were secured in 2009, under one umbrella, a master licence covering the Southern African Development Community (SADC),” he explains.
Hutchison says the company plans to expand into Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, as there is a lot of potential for growth, especially in Mozambique, owing to its natural resources.
“Establishing offices in South Africa has not been a challenge because South Africans are well travelled, they have seen the brand and they recognise and welcome it,” he says.
From a training perspective, Hutchison points out that 250 local real estate agents have gone through Engel & Völkers’ strict German training system.
“The company has a Web-based platform, called ENV Life, that provides the theory for real estate agents to study independently online. We also offer personalised training sessions once a month,” he says, adding that German training provides more information and detail, compared with South African real estate training.
“An agent who has gone through Engel & Völkers training is equipped to operate in local and international markets. “The company is strict when it comes to training, if an agent has not attended training and passed all the tests within the first three months of appointment, they are removed from the system. There are no second chances,” Hutchison explains.
Hutchison points out that each Engel & Völker branch has its own corporate social responsibility perspective that benefits specific organisations.
“For example, Engel & Völkers in Ashlea Gardens, Pretoria, held a rewards function last October, whereby chalkboards and food parcels were donated to children at the Charisma Church centre, in Mamelodi,” he says.
Hutchison adds that the Engel & Völkers South Peninsula branch, in the Western Cape, recently started a competition in their area called the dream-house competition.
“This initiative is aimed at encouraging young children from all walks of life to develop their creativity. The Engel & Völkers Simon’s Town, Fishhoek and Kalk Bay branches dropped off the necessary material at participating schools and, in April, the learners had to draw their dream home.
“The winners received art hampers for themselves and for their schools,” he says, adding that all initiatives to help or develop children are an important aspect of the company.
“German companies, in general, are becoming more involved in South Africa and the SADC region, owing to the area’s emerging markets. From a labour and running costs point of view, Africa makes financial sense, as the continent is an untapped market, while South Africa serves as a gateway into the continent’s emerging economies,” he concludes.