When the property industry calls for the opening of the deeds office, the call comes for the over 50 000 estate agents operating in this sector plus the entire value chain affected by it.
One of them is Fernando Antonio.
In February this year I met up with Antonio, as one does when you want to get the pulse of the township property market.
Antonio, who lives with his parents and siblings in Mitchells Plain, has been working the township property market since he came up with an idea at UCT about a township portal.
As an entrepreneur – under the age of 30, nothing seemed to be able to stop his upward trajectory. His smile and enthusiasm, and his insights, lit up the room.
Not only does he have the trust of the tough township market, but he understands the intricacies of how it all works there.
His ZAkasi portal – a township portal where he acts as the agent between buyer and seller – was on the upswing in the flourishing market and he has employed people to work with him.
Then Covid-19 and lockdown happened to the industry and things are not going well for the young real estate agent anymore.He like others – particularly smaller outfits – in the industry have not been earning since the Deeds Office closed its doors at the start of lockdown.
“I’m not good at all,” says a worried Antonio when I phone to check up on him.
“We are losing business due to Covid-19. All businesses and institutions that makes part of our value chain are currently on hold.
“My family is fine, just the lockdown pressure is on us, as no one in my family falls under an organisation that will pay salaries or wages during this period.
“I’m also pressured by my two employees, regarding salaries. It’s really hectic. Everything is on standstill.
“This situation is affecting everyone‘, he says. “Many don’t know where their next meal will come from. Unfortunately I am not a SA citizen, (even though Antonio has been here since a child and speaks four official languages) so I do not qualify for the government relief.’
Opening of the Deeds Office would go some way to try ease the burden on his big family, none of whom are earning right now.
It seems many of the smaller industry agencies and one-man shows may not make it back this devastation. I hope Antonio does. The township property market has been enriched by him and his efforts.
You can contact Fernando Antonio on: firstname.lastname@example.org