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From childhood passion to a stellar career

Steven van Rooyen

MAIN IMAGE: Steven van Rooyen – franchisor of Leapfrog Property Group, Sunset Beach

Senior writer

Imagine for a moment that, on a show day, an unaccompanied child wanders in and starts viewing the property with a keen eye. He seems incredibly knowledgeable about what constitutes value, and this is not purely from a child’s perspective. Okay, so this was some decades ago. Still, Steven Van Rooyen, from Leapfrog Property Group Sunset Beach, was so fascinated by the property market in his teenage years that he made a point of acquainting himself with estate agents in his community and tapping into their knowledge and expertise, which ultimately still serves him today.

Steven’s destiny was clearly going to be in property, but surprisingly, it was not where his career began.

The entrepreneurial aspect of Steven’s character was, however, evident when he left school. In his early 20s, he started an inbound luxury golf travel business, which he operated for 15 years. In the off-season, he supplemented his income by speculating, renovating, and selling investment properties until 2007, when he sensed the property market was turning.   In turn, it did, albeit negatively, for a new residential broker. “It was a tough start with the global economic depression emerging in 2008, but I stuck it out,” he says.

A Leapfrog franchise partnership followed, which Steven now owns outright. “I’ve been here for 16 years, selling, managing, and letting across the Western Seaboard areas of Cape Town. We have grown a fantastic vacation villa rental business catering to foreign and domestic tourists to the region.”

As all franchise operators understand, franchising comes with unique challenges. Not only is a principal tasked with elevating the branding and directives of the host company, but it also includes responsibilities to your client base, the community in which you work, and your business ethic. Steven has successfully navigated through these minefields to the point where he has consistently maintained the title of top income generator for the agency.

Q:  How do you personally drive your agents to be successful?

A:  Leading by example is the simple answer! However, while I can say that being on the leaderboard shows the pathway, it requires far more handholding than just inspiration. For example, I want my agents to succeed, so I am directly involved in helping them with marketing strategies and individual goal-setting. Agents need to stay motivated, especially when the market is depressed. Every staff member embraces a ‘positive’ attitude, which ensures our teams are highly driven, engaging, and supportive of one another.

Q:  How do you view the current residential property market?

A: Like most things in life, the residential property market cycles are changing far faster than in previous years. Right now, and this applies across the country, there is little stock, especially for those seeking a rental property. I can say that there is a slight pushback on increasing rental fees, which I think have grown tremendously with the advent of a trend like semigration and the attractiveness of the Western Cape’s governance.

However, from a sales perspective, we are still realising high sales, especially because many corporate offices have relocated to Cape Town. This has also resulted in high demand for industrial/commercial properties, particularly logistics warehousing and storage facilities.

Q: Property values are dropping worldwide, and the recovery is expected to take two years. Is this reflected in your customers’ perceptions of value?

A: The historic returns from property will continue to be difficult to achieve for the foreseeable future. But, as we all know, property has always been an excellent long-term investment that generates income when needed, whether now or in the future. Most of our customers understand this and we encourage them to stay the course, and not to ignore the opportunities when they present. They trust us to guide their property value investments, which is a testament to how we disseminate our knowledge of market trends and movements.

Q:  Have you had to change your strategy based on the current market?

A: We continuously update our strategies and improve our offerings and how we respond to clients. We present ongoing training to our agents, monitor industry standards and compliances, and adjust accordingly. And because we specialise in certain areas, we devotedly stay well-informed about our competition, disruptors, and local activities that may impact property values.

We continue to grow all the varied aspects and activities of our business, and currently, we are exploring new opportunities that will benefit our agents and our customers.

Q:  What values must Leapfrog Sunset property practitioners embrace?

A:  First and foremost, never ignore a problem and always communicate directly with a client. We do not depend on messaging, email or WhatsApp when dealing with issues. This is a personal business, which often requires tact and explicit understanding. Electronic communications can be distorted in tone or sound impersonal, and when you are dealing with people who are investing large amounts of money, you need them to feel that you care. Overall, we emphasise that our agents must be proud of their contribution to Leapfrog’s delivery of a great service.

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