A new take on real estate: Forget fat commission rates and build houses for the poor

A new online real estate service Habitat Homes is shaking up the old model by significantly simplifying the process of selling a property and only charging 1.5% commission. On average, traditional real estate agents charge about 7.5% commission (sometimes more), which is a big slice of the selling price.

But it’s not only property sellers who are set to benefit. Needy families could soon have a roof over their heads thanks to Habitat Homes. The company will donate 10% of its profits to Habitat for Humanity – an NGO that helps build and upgrade homes in less-fortunate communities.

Habitat Homes’ low commission rate is largely due to cutting out the middleman (traditional agents) by taking most of the selling process online. Managing director David Taylor says people can now sell their properties in a few clicks. “Nowadays it’s the norm to grab a taxi, order dinner or apply for a job via the web. So why shouldn’t we be able to sell our properties in a similar manner?”

The selling process with Habitat Homes is simple: Sellers sign up on the website, photos of the property are taken and the listing goes live online. Viewings are arranged with potential buyers and a deal is negotiated with the help of facilitators. Finally, documents are signed and the conveyancing procedures take place, with Habitat Homes’ legal experts on hand throughout the process.

“The process is really simple, even for first-time sellers. We guide clients every step of the way. While they can look forward to paying far less commission, they can also feel really good about the fact that 10% of the profits go toward less fortunate communities,” Taylor adds.

“Currently, South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal societies with approximately 12 million South Africans living in extreme poverty. Habitat for Humanity SA is driven by the belief that providing people with adequate, decent and affordable shelter is the best way to turn the tide on poverty,” he concludes.