Property agent is changing lives

Darren Francis, 40, formerly from Tafelsig is a SA Property Investors Network’s (SAPIN) Investor of the Year finalist.

Getting a phone call that his first property sale was complete, while choosing a suit to wear to his father’s funeral and being sent to the shop by his mom all led to a Tafelsig son creating employment and development for those living in the area.

Darren Francis was 38 years old at the time, and as he walked to the Tafelsig tuckshop he looked at the people in the streets.

“Tafelsig is not the best or the safest of neighbourhoods.

“I realised my money can create opportunities for other people with the right structures.

“I can buy a property, work on it, make it liveable and those helping or working with me can earn money and put food on their tables,” he said.

His dad died November 4 2019. Later that month Mr Francis sold a Tafelsig property for R475 000, which he had bought for R160 000 and spent R62 000 to fix it up.

Now, almost two years later Mr Francis has sold six properties which he renovated and will next year build housing units in Portland, which would be up for rent.

He is a one of 12 finalists in the SA Property Investors Network’s (SAPIN) Investor of the Year Awards, in the “Investor for Change” category.

At the black-tie awards event, which will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, tomorrow Thursday November 18, Mr Francis and the other finalists will present their final pitch to the panel of judges.

“The finalists stem from many diverse and rich backgrounds, each having been on a unique and personal journey to get to where they are today,” the network’s statement read.

The awards recognise and celebrate South Africa’s most exciting property deals, property investors and creates a platform for networking, wealth creation and inspiration – in five categories, which cater to entries from beginner property owners to professional property practitioners.

According to his citation for the Investor for Change category nomination Mr Francis flipped six properties with the intention to expand into buy-to-let.

“His strategy has also focused on creating jobs and sustainable living for his power team,” read his citation.

This Mr Francis did in his spare time, while working 9am to 5pm for the City of Cape Town.

He, his wife Marshaleen, contractor mentor Mario Motto and people from Tafelsig created about 52 short-term work opportunities and they are looking to grow this as EMT Property Investments and consulting.

“We have put systems in place for the business to run itself,” said Mr Francis.

He told the Plainsman it had been a long journey since 2009 when he read Jason Lee’s book “Making money out of property in South Africa”, pieced with information from his wife who worked in a property sales agency and an auction house – and a desire to make money.

Mr Francis and his wife had just bought their home, in Muizenberg, had a bond to pay and debt.

At the time his dad, who was a taxi driver, had to buy his grandmother’s house and Mr Francis thought he could do it too.

In 2015 he started a public relations company called Trident Media accumulating some capital but after ten months felt burnt out and depressed.

He quit the side job and bought the fixer-upper in 2018.

Mr Francis fixed the holes in the walls, got a tenant and sold it ten months later.

“We want to build homes people feel proud of living in, being in their kitchen, their bathroom and not in some dingy place; and dread going home,” he said.

The investor of the year stands to win an all-expense-paid trip to Victoria Falls worth R28 000 and Mr Francis could win a R44 000 prize for his category from Private Property.