The rise in use of Content Management Systems (CMS) and ready to use plugins combined with easily available hosting means that every Taurai and Tarisai out there can quickly buy a suitable sounding domain name and start their own property listing site. The problem though is that most of these sites often do not bother to vet the items listed on the site as they are just in it for the ad revenue.
Propertyend.com is different, members of the public are cannot just go to the site and start uploading houses they are selling. Due diligence is at the heart of everything Propertyend does. To prevent fraud and scams, only vetted estate agents who meet qualifications in their countries/cities of origin can upload listings. This makes life hard for would be fraudsters and increases accountability.
The site was started in 2009 by Peaceful Chimbwanda a Zimbabwean-born UK-based entrepreneur who is a resident of Coventry. He serves as the CEO of the company.Being a person in UK looking to buy a property back in his native Zimbabwe presented Peaceful with unique problems:
Twelve years ago, I set about buying a property in my home country of Zimbabwe from my then base in the USA. Being so far away from Zimbabwe and with very little to no direct contact or interaction with the network of estate agents in that country, what began as a simple desire from my living room to find a property in my home country, soon became a nightmare. Just finding a single property to consider buying became an impossible task as nothing was available online to look at. I must admit business use of the internet and websites has since improved in Zimbabwe since 12 year ago, but at the time businesses, particularly estate agents, didn’t seem to see the need for any online presence.
After struggling to find any meaningful property listings online, I imagined how much of my frustration was shared with many other people from Zimbabwe, or indeed other African countries, in the diaspora. In that moment of frustration, the idea for a trans-African online property portal was born.
As already pointed out things are a little different these days with property portals popping out every other day. What makes this site unique are two things: a deliberate regional focus instead of focusing on just one country as well as deliberate focus on the diaspora market. With most property owners now demanding real foreign currency local buyers have just been priced out.
It is the requirement that only registered agents can upload properties on the site that impresses me the most though. Over the years a lot of people have lost their money when buying from individuals posing as estate agents. A favourite tactic of these drifters is to list properties they have no legal right to sell or rent and disappearing with prospective tenant’s and/or buyer’s money. Other sellers have been also known to sell their property to more than one buyer.
Vetting estate agents will certainly not prevent fraud but it will significantly minimise it. Most fraudsters are one hit wonders looking for quick cash and moving on to the next thing. Few of them bother to go through real estate accreditation. Most accredited agents are in it for life.
Most listing sites could take a leaf from Propertyend.com’s diligence. The downside though is that there are fewer properties than would otherwise be available on an open listing site as some people prefer to sell their own properties without going through real agents who will take a cut.