With 30 interested tenants per listed property, the rental game can prove as difficult for agents as it is admin intensive. And as any rental specialist will tell you, the secret to a successful rental division is personalised service and good relationships.
So why then is Just Property, which rebranded a month or so ago, encouraging its tenants to get themselves bond fit, equipping them with educational tools and services to do just this, and potentially losing them forever to homeownership?
It all started in February 2016 when Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, read a story about My Bond Fitness – the brainchild of attorney Meyer de Waal – which aims to assist consumers in their desire of fulfilling their homeownership aspirations. Whether consumers are battling bad credit scores, needing help with their budgets to get themselves bond fit, or if they simply need advice on how to raise their required deposit amounts, MBF aims to bridge the gap between renting and homeownership.
Stevens phoned de Waal, hopped on a plane to Cape Town and as they say in the movies, the rest is history.
Today, the company’s 11,000 tenants now have the opportunity to buy and own their own homes, thanks to the Just Property Homeownership Journey – which is being conducted in collaboration with My Bond Fitness.
“We hope to strike a nerve in our tenants to show them that they too can be homeowners,” says Carla Visagie, Just Property’s national business manager. “It’s not just a dream anymore; it’s a reality.”
But why would a company that is so powerful in the letting business essentially cannibalise itself by giving its tenants the tools to become homeowners?
“The demand for rental property is so great that we are unable to find homes for all the enquiries we get,” says Visagie, noting a new feature on the Just Property site which assesses tenants by performing credit checks on them and presents them with a certificate which they can take to any Just Property branch to preapprove their client profile. “We feel the tenants ready to buy could use a nudge to convince them to consider this option. It also opens up space to those who want to rent.”
The first phase of the programme is exclusive to Just Property clients, with phase two looking to launch to the general market.
“This is our way of giving back to those tenants who have been good to us,” says Visagie. “We have to commend Meyer [de Waal] – it’s a great product.”
De Waal, who started My Bond Fitness in 2008, explains that this partnership is a culmination of almost a decade of hard work and persistence in trying to educate the market and to help people realise their dreams of homeownership. He even managed to rope in heavyweight Chartwell Group to assist in product development, backed by the company’s expertise in homeownership funding and education.
“For Just Property we developed a homeownership programme that starts with an awareness campaign and then four e-learning modules,” says de Waal, explaining that once participants “pass” the modules, they are directed to the white-labelled My Bond Fitness Journey for a credit and affordability check. “Clients with a negative/bad credit profile are directed for debt repair, and the ones with a good to excellent report are taken through an educational journey towards homeownership.
“This involves Flisp subsidies, rent2buy (not done for Just Property), how to improve your purchase power, get yourself ready for the home loan application and prequalification, uploading supporting documents and, eventually, find a home to buy.”
Now your rent can help you buy-
De Waal says the ultimate goal is to have the largest database of ready, able and educated buyers, and to invite sellers and estate agents to search their listing page for such buyers.
“They will all have a prequalified home loan certificate in hand and sellers/agents can present their properties,” says de Waal. “It will be a dating site for properties.”
This article first appeared in HomeTimes