Specialist Property Finance Firm Finds Advantage in Adversity
Entrepreneurs solve problems, which is why Michael Schaefer has been a busy man since he launched ZDFin at the height of the Covid lockdown.
“The business has been phenomenally received,” says Schaefer, “mostly because it answers the dire need for specialist finance for schemes, be they sectional title bodies corporate, homeowners’ associations or share block companies.”
Schaefer was previously a director and shareholder at Trafalgar, the country’s biggest residential property administration company, started by his father over 50 years ago. His move to establish ZDFin was in part motivated by the 2016 Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act.
“It is well intentioned legislation, but it complicated the lives of scheme executives (trustees and directors),” explains Schaefer. “Regulations make it mandatory for every body corporate to have a 10-year maintenance plan that must be approved by owners and must detail projected works. It also provides direction to the computation of levies.”
“Definitive, professional plans are often not practically affordable, but are critically important, given they direct both the computation of reserve levies (and funds). They are also important in that they direct the required works to maintain members’ often largest single investment – their home.”
Schaefer says that ZDFin’s experience shows that most trustees have little or no experience of these plans or how to finance them and the works that they direct.
“Specialist property expertise has given ZDFin entry into a niche business and the company has assembled a team to service this market.”
In the five months since it launched, ZDFin has built up a loan book that will breach the R50 million mark in the first quarter of 2021, before the company’s first anniversary. In South Africa the size of the market is estimated at 65 000 bodies corporate, 25 000 home owner associations and 5 000 share-block schemes. Less than half of these have managing agents.
“Most schemes are navigating maintenance and financial management on the fly, hence ZDFin’s positive market reception. The interest has been across the board, from large well-known Managing Agents to self-managed schemes with an entrepreneurial mindset. We talk their language, forged by years of practical experience.”
“For them our offering is not about fancy finance speak, it is about offering their building a tailored solution with one of, or a combination of, our product range. We are very in sync with our clients and resonate with their needs which directly affect their day to day lives and quality of living.”
Schaefer is an honours graduate who did a two year stint in banking before immersing himself in property. He sharpened his skills on a host of property issues and has turned around delinquent inner city blocks. He is also a property investor with a portfolio heavily weighted in South African cities.
The ZDFin book is growing rapidly with R15 million secured in the first four months of operating and another R35 million in approved deals. Schaefer is currently in talks with private equity investors, who see the value in his goals and share his passion for the industry.
“By the financial year-end our book will be over R50 million. We haven’t even scratched the surface and the work keeps coming in. I think this because there are so few credible players in the market and arguably none with the level of practical experience we have.”
“ZDFin has an in-house legal team and works with managing agents, engineers, quantity surveyors, insurance specialists, maintenance contractors, valuers and the like to mitigate risk and solve real-life problems.”
Schaefer says managing agents and scheme executives (trustees and directors) soon distinguish between smooth talkers and professionals with integrity who have done the hard yards.
“They know what is going on and what their challenges are, which is why I think we resonate. It’s one thing to sing the finance tune and it is another to deliver the goods. Reputation, a credible offering and practical industry experience count. We’re providing smart financial solutions for a growing list of management problems. Our results speak for themselves.”
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Joanne Hayes, Tumbleweed Communications
Tel: +27 (0)83 6277249 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT ZDFIN – https://zdfin.co.za/
ZDFin is a specialist finance company providing smart solutions for Sectional Title Bodies Corporate, Home Owners’ Associations and Share Block companies. We service all residential Community Schemes affected by the Community Ombud Service Act, including non-profit companies and voluntary associations governed by a constitution. ZDFin has a wealth of practical experience in property and financial management. We understand these challenges and our range of targeted financial products can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual scheme.