Advice and Opinion Young Professionals

Navigating Cape Town’s property industry: A journey of learning, challenges & opportunities

Trent Braga

By Trent Braga, Property Broker at Anvil Property Smith

The transition from university to the professional world is a pivotal moment. For me, it involved stepping into Cape Town’s property industry – a dynamic, competitive, and fulfilling environment.

In my exploration of experience, I will delve into what I have learnt, the unique challenges of management and brokering, how I believe the property industry operates, and the opportunities I believe lie in Cape Town. All that is to follow is solely based off my unique experiences in the property game:

Entering the property sector

My decision to enter Cape Town’s property industry straight after graduating was driven by passion and a deep appreciation for the vibrant real estate landscape in the Mother City. I did not know the depth of what was to follow.

Cape Town, with its stunning natural beauty and its diverse property market, presented an exciting playground for a budding property professional. Little did I know that this was a decision that would mark the beginning of a steep learning curve, rich with experiences and challenges.

I chose a career in property due to its tangible, long-lasting impacts on the economic climate. The fundamental contributions to community development and economic growth enticed me, and the diversity and direct connection to real-life spaces makes for a fulfilling and purpose-driven career.

What have I learnt?

Filled with learning experiences, my journey offers unique insights. The management and sales/leasing aspects of real estate are both crucial to understanding what is involved in the development of property. I started my career on the management side, particularly retail property where I gained valuable lessons and learnt from some of the best in the game with the professionals that I met, helping me to grow.

The decision to move into brokering was not an easy one as it is a career filled with uncertainties. One thing was for certain; my journey for knowledge continued. Lessons I learnt varied, but a few broad themes emerged:

It is important to have a deep understanding of the macro-environment. Understanding the intricate nuances of Cape Town’s property market is the cornerstone of success. An interesting point I quickly picked up on is the disparity between each node in property differ dramatically. The residential market, industrial market, retail market, and commercial market are all extremely different and operate at different speeds and (very) different price points. One realizes quickly why Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s) specialize and pursue each of these nodes, being mindful of applying specific principles to specific nodes. 

Building a professional network has been invaluable. I believe this to be the most important aspect of getting deals done. Connections are a treasure trove of opportunities. Connections help with both referrals and partnerships. I have learnt from my dealings that the property industry is a relationship business. Most big deals are concluded over a cup of coffee, rather than the formalities of written agreements (for legal reasons it is important).

At the end of the day, excellent customer service is non-negotiable. Providing exceptional service at any stage is paramount and it can make all the difference in retaining and attracting clients. Regardless of who one is dealing with, you are representing not only the company you work for, but also your own name – the property industry is very small. I believe that it is important to approach each person with the same level of respect, regardless of their standing/role or the size of the deal one is working on.

Competing in the property game

Entering the brokering game is not easy. You are up against professionals that have been learning and establishing themselves for much longer, and in some cases, my dealings have put me in touch with people that have been servicing one area for the time that I have been alive.

This said, one of my biggest challenges that I face in the Cape Town property industry is competing with seasoned professionals, many of whom are part of the older generation (no disrespect intended; these professionals are wiser and come with a wealth of experience that I strive to achieve). Entering the Cape Town property ‘boys club’ is difficult but if one treats others with respect and maintains a willingness to learn, it can be navigated.

Being younger is not all bad. I have the benefits of embracing modern technology and digital marketing. The other advantage I have is that of energy and enthusiasm, inherent in the younger generation. Brokering not for the faint-hearted; kicking tyres, walking the streets databasing and becoming familiar with the word “no” is the less glamorous side which is often overlooked. This, aided with a youthful perspective, allows one to be adaptable to the rapid changes in the industry, especially in the utilization of online platforms, virtual tours, and remote transactions to name a few.

Finding the balance between networking and energy levels is critical. Networking is a time-tested strategy, and while building a network from scratch is a lengthy process, energy can be a potent force in networking. Enthusiasm and dedication drive efforts to connect with experienced professionals, attending industry events, and interacting with stakeholders on the ground. This level of dedication to building a network is tiring, however it is important with property to adopt a long-term view, the same is to be applied to relationships.

Entering the Cape Town property industry after university has been a remarkable journey filled with valuable lessons, challenges, and exciting opportunities. Competing with the older generation has taught me the importance of embracing the advantages of youth and the power of fresh perspectives. Balancing networking with youthful energy has allowed me to create a unique niche in a competitive field.

Choosing to stay in Cape Town has proven to be a happy decision for me, providing an ideal backdrop for a budding property professional despite the challenges. My journey in the Cape Town property industry has been both fulfilling and promising, leaving me eager to continue my growth and exploration in this dynamic field.

If you have a topic that you think is interesting and that would provide our readers with valuable insight, you can submit your article to as part of our ‘Young Professionals’ campaign.

You don’t need to have formal writing experience – we will assist you, but you need to be under the age of 35, having graduated with at least one years’ work experience in the real estate industry.

Knowledge sharing is powerful!