The recently formed NPPC – representing the interests of property practitioners – is already hard at work dealing with the effects of Covid-19 on the industry
The historic National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) has come to life in the sector’s darkest hour. It is dealing with lockdown and an industry which has been suffocated by restrictions, its tens of thousands of members unable to earn a living.
The timing of this epic joining together of the real estate sector to act as an all-sector representative is perfect. It has gone straight into battle, appealing to the regulator and government to see the sector as an essential service.
“Like other industries, we are not immune to disruption and world events, however, the high proportion of commission earners in our industry does make us vulnerable as practitioners are not eligible for UIF payments and the other SMME subsidies available,” says its first chairperson Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, chief executive of the SA Institute of Black Property Practitioners.
While the Covid-19 crisis speeded up its birth, Mutshekwane says the seeds for the NPPC were sown when the Property Practitioners Act called for its formation. Its conception was at a meeting held in January.
Mutshekwane – smart, sassy, astute – is just the type of person you want leading an organisation that represents the interests of the more than 40 000 agents, brokers, professionals, consultants, developers, managing agents, auctioneers and financing institutions that fall within the Property Professionals Act’s ambit.
“This is not going to be a bloated council,” says a determined Mutshekwane.
“We are not here to replace the important industry bodies that deal with the micro issues of their groupings – they will remain a voice for their constituencies and work on their specific issues – instead we are here to represent the broader issues.”
Added to that, annual fees paid by the member bodies are minimal – more like a token fee.
Mutshekwane explains that the Property Practitioners Act of late 2019 called for the creation of this “multi-stakeholder platform that would be fully representative of the industry”.
Prior to this, she says the industry had always been somewhat disjointed with each interest group represented by different organisations.
This new council provides an opportunity “to be more impactful by aligning industry views and enhancing communication with the regulator and the various government departments and stakeholders”.
What is exciting, she says, is that for the first time “we have a door open to places such as the SA Property Owners Association, the National Association of Managing Agents and also auctioneers.
“We recognise industry needs to give united feedback to support the regulator and policy-makers”. She says the Covid-19 crisis “certainly fast-tracked the need for the establishment of the council”.
The council has already been busy, calling for the lifting of certain lockdown restrictions to get the industry moving again.
Mutshekwane is quick to add that the NPPC is not some pipe dream: “It is a formal process brought about by the new act. We need to, and want to, make it work.”
She says discussions with the different bodies have been interesting and what keeps it balanced is that “we have equal representation and equal decision-making representation – we are determined to drive co-operation and be a voice of unity”.
“We may have differences but we will act collectively. What’s clear is it cannot be business as usual. We have to take informed decisions in order to future-proof this industry. These are still early days – this council is the first step in the journey of what sustainable transformation will look like for our industry.”
“The formation of the NPPC is forward-orientated, but we don’t know what the future will be. What we do know is doing it together is the best approach.”
This astute businesswoman and property icon says being elected chairwoman is “a big responsibility”.
What is propelling her, however, is that there is a “unity of vision and purpose and strong support from industry”.
“We are having discussions – some more difficult as the issues are complex – but we are having them and we all want it to work.”
Also on the NPPC agenda are the draft regulations which will give effect to the new Property Practitioners Act; fast-tracking transformation initiatives; addressing industry growth opportunities and streamlining and building relations between the industry, the government and other stakeholders.
The founding members of the NPPC are: the SA Institute of Black Property Practitioners, SA Property Owners Association, Real Estate Business Owners of SA, National Property Forum, National Association of Managing Agents, Institute of Certified Business Brokers, SA Institute of Auctioneers, Institute of Estate Agents of SA and the SA Business Broking Association.