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FNB’s recent launch of an app that allows its customers to trade their homes privately among themselves at no cost couldn’t have come at a worse time for real estate agents. The livelihood of SA’s estimated 40,000 estate agents has come increasingly under threat in the past few years, with the entry of a number of digital disrupters challenging the way in which South Africans have traditionally bought and sold property. New online listing platforms such as Leadhome, PropertyFox and HomeBid offer a cheaper alternative to the average commission of about 7% of the sales price (plus VAT) that sellers typically have to pay estate agents to market and sell their homes. Most new entrants charge commission of only 1.5% (plus VAT) or a flat fee of between R35,000 and R40,000 — payable once a sale is concluded. Leadhome, for instance, claims that its fee structure means a seller of a R1.5m home will save nearly R75,000 in agent’s fees. The biggest difference between the business models of tra...

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