Greg Barton Harris
CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals Group – Real Estate Sector Nationally
Certificate of Professional Recognition as Principal Estate Agent – Issued by Estate Agency Affairs Board of South Africa
Monthly financial and other CSR contributions. Noteworthy is his involvement with a crisis care for abandoned babies in Durban North – Domino Foundation
Humble beginnings – Always a story, behind the glory
Effervescent and infectious – these two words perfectly sum up Greg Harris, the newly instated CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals. Having arrived in South Africa from Zimbabwe in 2000, Greg noticed the potential in the property rentals sector in and around KZN’s Umhlanga Rocks area. This - coupled with an innate desire to succeed and a passion to set a benchmark for service levels in the industry - drew Greg’s attention to a small Habitat franchise. With a positive outlook and a good eye for potential he acquired the business and took over the humble but thriving portfolio of clients.
Embracing positive change – The birthplace of advancement
Having been accustomed to change coming from one country and settling into another, Greg also embraced adaptability in the business world. As soon as he became acclimatised to the precise needs of the property market in Umhlanga and surrounds, he accordingly renamed the business “Umhlanga and Coastal Letting” - with a portfolio comprising of around 40 properties by then. Greg commented saying, “My team and I continued to inject unyielding focus and diligence into the business, concentrating on holiday letting and lease rentals. This paid off once again and gave rise to incredible growth, even beyond the borders of Umhlanga itself.”
Maintaining Momentum – Ensuring sustainable growth
The above-mentioned growth warranted the professional rebranding of the business, which gave rise to what became known – until recently – as the popular Lighthouse Property Group. This official name-change was affected on 7th March 2005. Lighthouse soon became a juggernaut in Umhlanga, other parts of KZN and even penetrating the rentals sector of bustling Gauteng. The idea behind the business’ rebranding was epitomised in the symbolic nature of the Lighthouse as a beacon of hope and direction, bringing a welcome beam of light that illuminates the way forward. This concept holds so true in the real estate sector where customers are seeking genuine clarity, transparency and sincere advice when engaging in property transactions.
For Greg the Lighthouse move was positive as it uncapped not only the geographic limits to an extent, but also went hand in glove with the fact that the operation soon established various specialised divisions, including long term letting, residential sales and commercial sales – all of which were exhibiting remarkable success. The group’s slogan – “Guiding You All The Way” – remains and has been incorporated into the now Chas Everitt Property Rentals banner.
Much of Greg’s success can be attributed to his as well as his team’s intimate knowledge of the property market.
“You simply can’t stagnate in this industry or you’ll very quickly get left behind by your competitors. The skills and knowledge that myself and my team possessed two years ago, simply wouldn’t be enough to get you by in today’s market. As such, everyone within my organisation attends specialised training courses. Long term rental staff members go on long term rental courses, whereas my holiday letting staff will go on courses that focus very much on holiday letting itself. In doing so, we’ve created a team of experts within each department to effectively tackle every single challenge they’re presented with within their particular specialisations”, said Greg.
Taking off the limits – Thinking nationwide
Having noted the unrelenting rise and expansion of the Lighthouse Property Group under the guidance of Greg in KZN and even in Gauteng, the Lighthouse brand attracted the attention of real estate giant Chas Everitt International Property Group. Recognising Greg’s expertise in property rentals and his extensive success in building up Lighthouse, talks soon culminated into a merger. This move meant that in a very short space of time, thanks to Chas’ vast national footprint, the newly merged entity would take Greg and his dedicated team into the national fold; proving that hard work and commitment do pay off, albeit in unexpected and often unusual ways.
Although the Residential Sales Division arm of Lighthouse did move across to Chas Everitt International Property Group in an initial deal in December 2011, the merger itself took place during 2014 - and thanks to consistent efforts with lots of hard work, CEPR was fully integrated by the last quarter of the year. In fact by November 2014 the transition had been successfully and happily concluded.
Proven expertise, now has a fresh face
The above highlights the remarkable story behind Chas Everitt Property Rentals and Greg Harris, which also shows us that when expertise is combined with vision and profound opportunity, the synergistic results are momentous indeed. This is also the manifestation of Greg’s original goal to be able to deliver specialised property services under one umbrella; not just in one segment but in all facets of the real estate market. While the name of the dedicated rentals company is new, the vast experience of the underlying companies and their specialist team members remain the same, but with a broader reach to offer tailored residential and commercial property solutions of the highest standards countrywide.
And while many brands have a sporadic presence in certain regions within a country, it should be noted that Greg moves from managing a thriving portfolio in parts of KZN and Gauteng to overseeing a nationwide portfolio in his capacity as CEO. As he drives CEPR forward countrywide, he does so on the backdrop of Chas’ 100 plus network of existing offices. It’s no surprise that the move has been accompanied by a huge upswing in demand for rental solutions relating to both existing and a growing number of landlords and tenants on the books.
Loyalty – Teamwork makes the dream work
Greg’s charm and enthusiasm are contagious, something which is reflected by his team’s fierce loyalty to the cause. “Most members of my managerial team have been with me since day one while the majority of my sales team have been involved with me for the last eight years. In that time we’ve developed and grown together driving the business forward”, said Greg.
Speaking about goals, Greg had this to say:
“We’re definitely trying to grow the group. What I’ve tried to bring to Chas Everitt, is to try and show their franchisees that sales can be a very up and down business, whereas rentals represents a constant form of annuity income that grows continually. At the end of the day, if you want to sell your estate agency, you have very little to sell – all of the agents leave and you’ve got to completely rebuild the business from scratch. A property rental franchise presents franchisees with a unique opportunity whereby they are able to build up a highly sustainable portfolio of clients and properties. This makes your franchise a lot easier to sell in the long term.”
Greg Harris and Corporate Social Responsibility
In addition to embracing ethical business practice, sound values and professionalism in all undertakings, Greg also believes in giving back to the less fortunate and making a positive contribution to society at large. He is passionate about corporate social responsibility and has a long-standing partnership with a crisis centre for abandoned babies in Durban North. The centre is run by the well-known Domino Foundation. Greg provides financial support on a monthly basis for a number of years now, and also assists in any other way possible.
Greg Harris away from the office
Away from work, Greg is very much a family man dedicating himself to his wife and three young sons – whom he affectionately calls “Team-Harris”. When he’s not spending time attending to clients and business or with his family, it’s not uncommon to find Greg paddling along the Umgeni River or taking time to enjoy one of KwaZulu-Natal’s many pristine golfing greens. He’s passionate about golf and has sponsored a number of different tournaments throughout his career in the property industry. To contact Greg Harris, or for further assistance with your property rental transaction, simply call CEPR directly today.