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Industry gets set to tackle transformation

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Sector must educate and regulate

Industry gets set to tackle transformation

Transform of the real estate industry in South Africa is still a major hurdle that must be cleared.

Issues like professionalism, ethical practices and regulation have been among those targeted, and have already produced promising results, but transformation still falls short of expectations.

Bongani Mlangeni, spokesman for the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), says since the introduction of the revised education regulations in 2008, significant progress has been made to professionalise the industry and ensure that people can distinguish between professional agents and those who are unqualified or operating illegally. 

When the proposed Property Practitioners Bill is promulgated, the occupational qualifications that meet the educational needs of property practitioners will also be created, he says.

There is also a need for agents to have continuous training, says Lanice Steward, national president of the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa (IEASA).

“In the past an agent wrote one exam and was able to become an agent and/or open their own company. The need for a more rigorous training programme was identified. Presently agents have to be interns for at least 12 month, complete a real estate course (NQF4) set by the Seta, and have a logbook demonstrating practical application, set by the EAAB. Once they are deemed compliant in both they write a professional designation exam and only then become “full status agents”.

Although the overwhelming majority of agents is ethical , Steward says: “When an agent is not licensed, censure by the EAAB is not swift and penalties not enough. The EAAB must sort operational issues to become more effective.”

But overall Mlangeni says the EAAB believes the sector is “as well-regulated as can be expected”, given the constraints of the 1976 Estate Agency Affairs Act that does not “adequately cover the significant developments in the dynamic and continually evolving sector since that time”. 

The position will be effectively addressed by the Property Practitioners Bill. 

The Youth in Property Association (Yipa) believes insufficient regulation is at the heart of transformation. Monedi Lefakane, Yipa chairman, says the government is largely to blame.

“Poor regulation led to poor levels of transformation as companies are not clear about what targets to achieve and how to achieve them. The government must play a more responsible role as regulator to bring out the ’stick’ for companies not transforming and more ‘carrot’ to those that are.”

Mlangeni says the “indispensable” transformation of the profession to reflect the demographics of a democratic South Africa is “a work-in-progress”. The EAAB’s transformation committee is making a “concerted endeavour” to expedite transformation.

IEASA says the key lies in the recruitment of interns. “As a commission-driven industry, an intern must have financial resources to last at least six months, a car, cellphone and laptop,” says Steward.

“Initiatives have focused on school leavers and results are dismal. Along with the Seta, the EAAB and the industry are rolling out different initiatives to financially support an intern for the first 12 months.”

She says there is also a need to assist some unlicensed agents to complete their NQF4, logbook, and PDE to be compliant. “This in itself will change transformation figures.” 

Lefakane says transformation starts with an increase in awareness of opportunities and jobs in the sector, and empowerment of young people through education and employment.

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