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Stay in touch … we have a new number

We’ve been having intermittent problems with our old support centre number. We know that when you call us you need immediate assistance, and the last thing we want is for you to be unable to reach us.

Thus, we have moved to a new provider and a better solution. Unfortunately though, this means that we have had to change our telephone number.

In future, please call our new number: 087 375 1000.

This is going to offer you a much better service experience going forward.

Managing fraudulent listings on Privateproperty.co.za

First off, we don’t like fraud, we don’t like it at all! We invest much in the form of systems and human resources to ensure that we minimise deviant behaviour on our website.

To provide some context to this topic, I would like to reference some statistics from December 2012 through to February 2013. During this period, we activated 46 890 sales and 20 490 rental listings. This is an average of 15 630 sales and 6 830 rentals per month.

Disregarding the sales listings for a moment, let’s talk fraudulent rentals specifically.

We offer browsers the option to report listings when they feel that a listing is suspect, or when they receive a reply indicating that a suspicious “landlord” is trying to solicit a deposit online. Of the 20 490 listings that were activated over the three-month period, 1.17% (240) were reported as fraudulent.  In monthly percentages this equates to 1.25% (63) in December,  0.79% (69)  in January  and 1.62% (108) in February.

Although this looks like an impressively low statistic, we are still not happy and are looking to implement new systems that retain our site’s ease-of-use but validate customer information more thoroughly.

As soon as such listings come to our attention, whether reported on the website, via email, through Twitter or Facebook, or telephonically, we work through them on a real-time basis. We validate the content and where necessary block these users from accessing our system with their current contact details. This forces them to go through a process of entering a new email address and creating a different profile.

Finally, we post evidence of these offenders on our advice forum, thereby exposing the deviant behaviour and minimising any potential impact on unsuspecting tenants.

 

Fraudulent sales listings

It is often reported that the stock on our website is out-of-date or no longer available. This is unfortunate, considering that a potential buyer would rather make an appointment to view a property than be disappointed in hearing that a property is no longer available.

For this reason, we have built our site to allow for easy activation and de-activation of stock by our estate agent clients.

While we are constantly striving to improve our systems and the ease-of-use of our site, the integrity of all the information underpins our shared success.

Delivering a new level of customer engagement

I can’t help but reflect on the recent furore in the media around the FNB / ANC advertising campaign, and to commend FNB for having capitalised extensively on a provocative campaign that has had everyone talking. Originally though, they were the bank that coined the phrase “How can we help you?” This has become something of a cliché these days, with one of their competitors running an “Ask once” campaign.

So, one asks, what is on the cards from Privateproperty.co.za with respect to service in 2013?

In 2012, I spent many hours looking at how the support centre was positioned to offer our customers a level of service that would be something to be proud of. We ended the year by changing our voice prompt on our national call centre number to direct all enquiries to one of our eight operators, removing the “choose a queue” feature. This has resulted in our call volumes going up, but we believe people want to be able to talk to someone as soon as possible and it has been a great step in the right direction.

We are following up in 2013 with many more significant improvements to the ways in which we want to engage customers. Currently I am implementing a system that allows customers the opportunity to troubleshoot a database of FAQs and business rules that will ensure everyone understands how our systems work. This is currently being implemented and will be visible on the website during the course of February, along with a concise list of how to engage the customer support centre in the most effective way depending on the issue you need addressed.

Watch this space – as this is only the beginning of the enhancements we will be making during the course of the year. It is going to be an exciting year for the property industry and we are here to make the experience a highly engaging one for all of us.

We’re Managing Spam/Scam on Online Leads

You know the saying “It only takes one or two to spoil the fun for everyone” – this is what springs to mind when talking through scam and scam leads on Privateproperty.co.za.

To put the issue into context, we generate between 300 000 and 400 000 leads each month for our customers and only deal with literally a handful of scam related issues every month. So it is a small problem but most certainly not an insignificant one that we have to deal with.

We also have to keep in mind the need to trade-off “ease-of-use” without compromising on security, and this is a quick reminder of how we continually strive to build a safe yet effective marketing platform for all parties to enjoy.

Report this Listing –

On every listing there is an effective report listing link that enables all advertised properties to be monitored. Should someone find a listing that appears to be too good to be true, one can simply click on the report listing link and we do a thorough investigation to check the authenticity of the advert before de-activating it from our system.

Safety Tips –

We post “spammer content” to our Advice Centre which is a blog page that best allows you to verify whether the lead you have received is a genuine one or not. Visit this this page regularly to stay informed about “bad customers”.

Agent-on-Call Leads –

A recent concern raised was that of browsers sending abusive emails to Agents-on-Call. We didn’t want to limit enquiries to “registered users” only and eliminate the possibility of engaging all other users, so instead we built keyword blocking into these leads. This means that when abusive content is written to an agent in these leads, we are able to recognise the message as spam and prevent it from being delivered.

Spammer List –

Our system can identify most potential spam / scam leads to estate agents. We use a number of business rules and  programming logic to filter these and then have them moderated with a human interface to establish whether the lead is a genuine one.

In summary, we at Private Property will continue to work hard at making the experience a great one for both the browser and the customer. We appreciate any feedback and further ideas you may have to make the experience an even better one.


School Pages – Agent advertising opportunity

In keeping with tradition, and yet innovating at the same time, Private Property is giving Estate Agents the opportunity to associate themselves with a school – much like the “advertising boards” traditionally seen on the busiest corner of the school property. So, on a “First come, First approved” basis, Estate Agents can associate themselves with a school of choice on our website, on the relevant school page with a banner that advertises the Estate Agent.

For those who don’t know anything about the school project, Private Property has realised that often a buying decision will include schools in the area as part of that consideration. So, Private Property went ahead and created 10 000 school pages on our website which allows us to showcase property in proximity of a school – these properties appear as points on a map within a radius of the school concerned, and we have added a Virtual Tour, video file, and in some instances Aerial images of the school to provide a “snapshot” of what the school looks like and has on offer.

Should you be interested to take up this opportunity, send your Agency name, and name of school to schools@privateproperty.co.za.

Terms and Conditions apply.

 

A FREE virtual tour, video recording and Aerial Images of your school.

A Virtual Tour, Aerial Photos and Video Made of your School - at no COST.  

Recently, I heard from someone that they had relocated to live within the “catchment area” of a school of choice, yet their child hadn’t been born yet! And this in South Africa.

More and more the search for good education institutions will be the reason why parents will relocate. Private Property understands that a buying decision may just be determined by the quality of the schools within the proximity of a property.

To this end, Private Property have recently added a feature to our website that groups property around a school within a suburb, making the school, the centre point around which people are now able to view property. Each school page on our website  includes a map indicating the location of the school and equally importantly contact details for the school. Furthermore we showcase the school by means of a Virtual Tour, video clip (comprising the school song and Virtual Tour) and in some cases we do Aerial images of the school as well. We have already created 10 000 of these pages for schools across South Africa and would like to add the Virtual Tour / video and aerial images to these pages.

10 000 School pages are active already!

We have created 10 000 school pages with this information, as mentioned above, and currently are building the structure to assist people to navigate to these pages – your school is almost definately one of these. We just don’t have the virtual tour, video or Aerial Images attached to your school and need your permission to come out and create this content.

ALL OF THE ABOVE IS DONE AT NO COST TO THE SCHOOL.

Busiest Property Website

Private Property recently had over 1 million unique browsers – that is the equivalent of 1 million different people view the website - this  during January 2011 and we want to showcase your school to them, giving them the opportunity to view properties around your school and making it convenient for them to see something about your school.

See an Example:

Click here to see a current school page - Laerskool Randhart in Alberton, Gauteng.

or view Southdowns College in Irene on this link.

Give Your School a Marketing Edge

Contact me should you want me to check whether we have created your school page already, and all we need to do is add the Virtual Tour, video and Aerial images. Please contact Barrie via email (barriek@privateproperty.co.za) or call me on 082 610 7456.

* aerial images are limited to those schools who are prepared to host a link from their website to the page we create for the school on ours.

STRIKE IT RICH with the School content on the new website

The recent widely publicised strike affected Schools across the country, and it highlighted the issue of offering quality education to our children. We all want to offer our children the best possible jump-start in life. Browsers on the Private Property website will undoubtedly consider schools as part of their next relocation, especially if they have children of school-going age. So, with this in mind we at Private Property are taking the quality of information to a new level by enriching the information on our system that reflects the points of interest – and in this instance SCHOOLS.

We are starting the process of creating a page per school on our system where a browser is able to see some basic information about a school in the suburb in which they are looking to buy or rent, and on the school landing page our system will aggregate property in our database that are either “for sale” or “to rent” within the proximity of that school. In effect, the browser will have the ability to look at property from a perspective of proximity to a school of interest. Isn’t that NEAT!  

So, should you know of a school that would be interested to be on this program, please let me know. We’re offering the school a free Virtual Tour and Aerial Images of the school, along with a YouTube video clip of the school. You can contact me on barriek@privateproperty.co.za should you know of any schools who want to be part of this initiative. It is a great opportunity for the school to direct potential parents to a database of properties that are on the market within a defined radius of the school.

SPAMS & SCAMS

You’ve heard it said ”It only takes one bad apple to spoil the apple cart”.

So, with Private Property as the busiest property website in South Africa it doesn’t come as a surprise that from time to time we are targeted as part of a scam campaign.

As you may know, Private Property offers landlords the opportunity to list a rental property FOR FREE on our system – this has been a service extended to the public for many years now. HOWEVER, every now and again a scam artist will use this opportunity to list a rental property and “phish” for a potential unsuspecting tenant. The converse is also true, that an unsuspecting Landlord can become the object of exploitation.

UNDERSTAND that this happens very seldom and so Private Property is going to add a few pointers to our website at strategic places to make both parties aware of this threat and in the process make both parties a little sharper when doing a deal.

We believe the service is still incredibly good value and by taking these few precautions Landlords and tenants can continue to find each other with this amazing marketing tool called the internet!

Use our technology to its maximum – sms notification boards

Private Property has always been proud of the technology edge that we are able to push in offering benefit to all parties engaged in buying and the selling of property in South Africa. One of these has been the sms notifications that any agent or seller can use to instantly get the property details transferred from a “For Sale” board outside the property to a cell phone of an interested buyer. These boards are available to all parties – and in fact some agencies have even had their sms notification boards personalised into their colour and branding. So, use this feature – it is a very powerful way of giving potential buyers the information they are looking for before you actually receive a call from them.

Private Property busy bonding with Bondchoice

Some of you may know that Private Property has a relationship with Bondchoice. What you didn’t know was how you can use your Bond comm to maximum benefit.  As an agent using Private Property to market your stock to our online buying audience, when a buyer qualifies for a loan through the Bondchoice channel, as a strategic partner  we can offer you a combination of Propoints in combination with the Bond commission you earn on the bond grant, which means you can have your cake and eat it!

In short, you can choose how to split your commission from Bondchoice, which gives you the ability to be paid out in cash, yet at the same time transfer a percentage of the commission to a Bondchoice commission account which accrues value and can be redeemed as Propoints when you need them; so you can add another virtual tour to a property, perhaps use the points to put a property on Auction or whatever, the deal is just plain SWEET. Talk to me should you want to know more.