Residential property doyenne Pam Golding has left a far-reaching legacy that has drawn praise from her peers.
Golding died peacefully at her home in Constantia, Cape Town on Tuesday at the age of 90. She was the founder and life president of Pam Golding Properties (PGP), which she established in 1976, when she was 48, having initially sold houses only as a hobby. PGP now has a network of more than 300 offices in sub-Saharan Africa as well as offices in the UK, Germany, Seychelles and Mauritius.
The group facilitates property sales in Spain and Portugal and also operates in the US.
PGP was an early mover into the UK market, with one of her career milestones being the opening of a London office in 1986. "I heard about Pam long before I met her. She was the talk of the town. Everyone in London was saying, ‘have you met Pam Golding?’ She sort of sashays down Sloane Street every day. She is an agent par excellence. She just lives, thinks, breathes it. She’s glamorous, she’s attractive, she’s charming," said Victoria Mitchell, consultant director of Savills.
Golding was married to Cecil, who died at age 93 in 2015. The couple had three children, Peter, Andrew and Jilly. Andrew is now CEO of PGP.
Golding was born in Umtata on September 12 1928. She attended Port Elizabeth’s Collegiate Girls’ High School and then obtained a BA honours degree in psychology at the University of Cape Town.
Golding was a natural entrepreneur, demonstrating this after completing her tertiary studies. A family friend said she had a "knack for the sale … years before she was putting houses on show on weekends".
"Pam’s very first job was selling encyclopaedias. She sold The Treasure Casket door to door. That is where she honed her skills," the friend said.
After selling houses for a hobby while raising her children, she realised there was a gap in the male-dominated residential property industry.
Andrew said his mother was determined to succeed at creating a business from scratch.
"There are a few phrases I think of when I think of Pam. One of them is ‘press on regardless’ — the requirement to hang in there. This stood us in good stead to withstand the downturns… It was this attitude, as well as a sense of responsibility to the many people who had given their unqualified loyalty to the business, that compelled my parents to put everything back into the company," he said.
"Pam Golding has left an indelible mark on the real estate industry in SA. There is no doubt her legacy and impact will continue to be felt even with her passing," said Herschel Jawitz, the CEO of Jawitz Properties.
Seeff Property Group chairman Samuel Seeff said she had made a "significant contribution to the real estate industry" and had "left a lasting legacy".