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Whether you are buying or selling a home or investing in property to grow your wealth, finding the right realtor to work with is crucial to success.

“Many people still assume that there is little more to selling a home than popping a For Sale board on the lawn and hosting a show house or two, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“And when they are entrusting someone with their largest assets or even their financial futures, it’s important to be aware that their choice of property professionals can significantly impact the length of time a property remains on the market as well as the final sale price.”

According to Geffen, it’s essential to consider certain key factors when making this all-important decision to ensure that you appoint not only the right people but also those with a distinct edge over the competition.


“Not only does the simplest sale entail months of work from start to finish; it’s a complex process which encompasses diverse fields and operates in a very dynamic marketplace which is why experience is critical for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, it takes time to build up a strong network of fellow agents and other property professionals and those who share a good rapport with other agents in their areas will know exactly what is happening in the local market and will benefit from indirect access to multiple buyer lists. 

“Experienced agents also have a thorough understanding of the overall market which enables them to better advise clients, negotiate on their behalf and, most importantly, to give accurate, market-related valuations which are essential to achieving a quick sale at the best possible price.”

She adds that seasoned property professionals will appreciate the fact that for most people, real estate is as much an emotional investment as a financial investment and that they are not merely brokering the sale and purchase of a commodity, which greatly influences a client’s experience.

However, Yael says that people often make the mistake of focusing only on the agent and overlooking the other vital component that is essential to a seamless property transaction. Even the best agents can only offer so much without the backing of an established agency.

Having grown up in the industry, Yael’s grandmother, Aida, was a doyenne and pioneer in the South African real estate industry. Established 64 years ago in 1958, hers was also the first local property brand to adopt the franchise model, headed up by her son Lew Geffen.

The success of this venture later inspired him to branch out on his own and, in 1982, he established his own agency with his wife, Sandy.

Lew Geffen Estates soon became a household name and a market leader in Johannesburg and, over the course of 20 years, Lew established a solid foundation which enabled him to forge an alliance with one of the world’s oldest brands.

In 2003, he obtained the first Sotheby’s International Realty franchise outside of the USA and was also the first person in the world to be granted a franchise licence for an entire country rather than merely a region or city and this is when the nationwide expansion began.

“We’ve since grown to become the most respected and trusted name in South African realty with more than 40 branches nationwide and a national average selling price that is, on average, 40% higher than that of our competitors.”

Reach and agency support

“The most successful realtors are those who have the support of an established brand with an excellent track record as well as an extensive local, national and international reach on the correct platforms to communicate with a wide targeted audience of serious buyers,” says Yael.

“And whilst there are a number of real estate brands in South Africa with solid track records and local networks, only Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty is a third-generation family business with an extensive local and global reach.

“Through our affiliation with Sotheby’s, our client base has grown exponentially and now includes high net worth individuals from around the world, some even Oscar winners, and we are able to offer our clients the significant advantages of our access to a network of over 1000 offices in 79 countries.”

She adds that last year, internationally, Sotheby’s Realty had 46 million web visits and 178 186 636 page views and this extensive reach is further lengthened through its alliance with 12 influential international media partners.

“With the world having become even more of a global village since Covid-19 ushered in the age of remote working and many people can now choose where they want to live regardless of workplace, an international affiliation has become invaluable.

“And, with South Africans increasingly looking to diversify their real estate portfolios to include more stable markets and a growing number considering emigration or wanting to have Plan B in place, an agency with global reach makes all the difference, especially one that can offer a turnkey solution.

“In addition to America, we’ve forged close working relationships with our counterparts in countries that are attracting a growing number of South African investors.

“South Africans can still get a very respectable bang for their buck as well as foreign residency in countries like Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Mauritius, all of which are fast-emerging as leading destinations for property investments that deliver returns.”  


Founded in 1744, Sotheby’s is one of the world’s oldest companies and became the world’s first international auction house in 1955 and the oldest company on the New York Stock exchange, as such, has many more credible laurels than most on which to rest than most. 

However, in 1986 they chose instead to become a pioneering leader by diversifying when the winds of change first began to blow and today the brand also dominates the luxury real estate sector.  

“Heritage contributes profoundly and intrinsically to a brand’s core value but, much like respect, it’s an elusive and hard-won asset that cannot be bought or easily acquired overnight; it can only be earned over time through careful nurturing, authenticity and sincerity,” says Yael.

Setting it far apart from the competition, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty is the formidable alliance of a 40-year local legacy underpinned by a wealth of experience and the backing of a venerated global brand that has endured for almost three centuries.

“Our brand is synonymous with wealth creation, legacy and tradition and, although the commodity is real estate, we firmly believe luxury is not a price tag, it’s an experience. And every transaction is not merely a sale, it’s a journey we share with our clients.” DM/ML

Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty



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