The rise of Evo Properties, the Cape Town-based sales and leasing property and development management agency, is nothing short of remarkable.
In the past 12 months alone, the independent property brokerage and off-plan development consultancy has doubled in terms of tenant and rental management, and is now selling and managing some of Cape Town’s most exciting developments.
These include The Rockefeller (billed as “Cape Town’s grandest building” for its 395 luxury apartments spread over 18 storeys) on the Foreshore, the 64-residential unit The Barracks luxury apartments in Bree Street, The Ivory, an ever-so-stylish sustainable living 31-unit development in Fresnaye, and Uxolo off Long Street, an architectural marvel that has set tongues wagging in the Mother City.
And in the next three to four months, several other new developments will be launched.
What makes Evo Properties stand out is that its founders, brothers Emanuel and Stephan Germanis and their friend and business partner Matthew McWilliams – all Millennials themselves – have managed to corner the Millennial market by educating buyers on not only how easy it is to buy property, but also how lucrative such an investment can be.
“There’s nothing better than empowering someone to allow them to own their own home,” Emanuel Germanis says.
“Millennial buyers see us owning our own property, so they ask us for our advice a lot, and being able to report back that experience and insight to them makes them feel more secure,” Emanuel Germanis says.
Evo Properties has already enjoyed considerable success on their inhouse and self-developed buildings in the Woodstock precinct, including a 23-unit micro-apartment block in the blossoming inner-city suburb’s Cavendish Square and full consulting and management (including sales) of Urban Artisan Apartments, the 51-unit residential and retail property development a stone’s throw from Woodstock’s bustling Biscuit Mill.
That the company has managed to achieve all this against the extremely challenging economic circumstances brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic speaks to its determination to innovate.
The team’s Millennial-focused approach has paid off handsomely, as first-time buyers under the age of 35 have been taking advantage of competitive pricing and lower transfer duties and interest rates.
Germanis points out that when Covid-19 broke out in 2020, there was a lull in the market for the first month because nobody knew what was happening, but from the second month onwards buyers began to realise there was great value in the market.
This then transitioned into a buyers’ market, triggering large movement in Cape Town “For sellers and developers who assumed it was the worst time to sell, they realised it wasn’t because interest rates were the lowest they had been in five decades,” Germanis says. “People were able to work remotely and live in areas outside of where work was situated. This assisted many areas that previously had experienced slow sales growth.
“Rent is very high in Cape Town relative to other parts of the country and this convinced many renters to become first-time homeowners, much like the investment market where investors bought investment properties to rent to tenants where they would cover the majority of their costs per month.”
While FNB’s Property Barometer for February 2022 suggests market volumes are expected to cool because of rising interest rates on the back of rising inflationary pressures and less accommodative global monetary policy conditions, buyers remain less sensitive to interest rate hikes.
In middle priced segments (R750k-R2,6-million), buying activity continues to be supported by lower interest rates, credit availability and pandemic-induced changes in housing needs.
FNB expects rental inflation to lift to 2.0% on average in 2022, ending the year at around 2.5%, but this gradual normalisation is in line with the ongoing the recovery and improved mobility that might push people closer to business districts for work.
Germanis agrees that younger would-be buyers across all racial groupings who have been living with their parents or in Cape Town’s outer-lying suburbs are now deciding to move out and are looking closer to town, where the social benefits include making new friends, building communities in hip, up-and-coming neighbourhoods, and saving on transport costs.
A migratory trend from Johannesburg and Durban following the July 2021 riots has also pushed more buyers to Cape Town.
“In dealing with many buyers from other provinces, we as Cape Town brokers shortly realised that we have great municipal infrastructure, good transport available, fine food and to some degree live a very humble Westernised European lifestyle without needing a Euro wallet,” Germanis says. “Cape Town is a city that has much to offer for newcomers who form part of the prolonged semigration process and have come to realise that the ‘old money, sleepy city’ is a desired work, play and live destination with endless opportunities.
“For investors, Evo has multiple investment opportunities, from inner city living at The Barracks to full turn key hospitality at The Rockefeller. When clients purchase investment properties through us they have a full scope of what the investment entails, how they can realistically calculate their net returns and how they could build a property portfolio that speaks to the right markets.”
One of the great drivers of Evo Properties’ success is its clever use of technology.
Back in 2016, the company launched an online apartment sales reservations system on its website, one of the first to do so, which resulted in a massive market reaction. This innovation allowed anyone to buy a flat online without seeing it in person.
McWilliams has incorporated tech into sales and rental processes and has shown investors that Evo Properties doesn’t stop at the sale; it manages the investment afterwards by finding suitable tenants for the property and then managing the tenant and the property like an investment.
“We have a team dedicated to accounts, tenant queries and maintenance requests. All of these functions have been digitised through high-quality tech to be able to scale the business to accommodate our large new business demands,” Germanis says.
“We aim to achieve the status of the most prop tech-enabled property business in Africa by 2030 without losing the quality assurance aspect to our business, as we know exactly when a human element needs to step in. Stephan Germanis has been instrumental in this aspect as he is a well-known student and young professional operator who consults for various operators.”
Evo Properties also understands that as much as younger buyers are looking at properties that will suit their budgets, they also want to be seen buying in the “right place”. That is why the team goes the extra mile in matching its clients to developments that are considered the future of Cape Town’s urban landscape.
Investors can also be assured that Evo Properties will be with them every step of the way. The process is handled by the team the whole way through. Evo’s comprehensive ability to manage the investment after its acquisition is what differentiates it from other competing companies.
As a company that has a wealth of real-world development and owner experience, owning a number of properties in Cape Town, it completely understands investor concerns and needs, and what sort of returns people expect on their investment. This degree of experience carries over to all aspects of financing, and as such they are able to advise investors quickly and efficiently.
About Evolution Property Group (“Evo Properties”)
Evo Properties is a Cape Town-based independently-owned sales and leasing property brokerage and development management agency, which handles marketing, sales, lease and property management for a diverse group of clients both in the residential and commercial property arenas. Owner-managed and run by brothers Emanuel and Stephan Germanis, as well as Matthew McWilliams, the company has grown through a network of partnerships and personal referrals, advising and handling projects right around Cape Town’s Southern Peninsula. Its chief aim is to maximise rental yields and/or short-term capital gains for their clients as minimum risk.