Estate Agents - Raising the Bar

Estate Agents - Raising the Bar

Private Property South Africa
Property Professional

New legislation is set to significantly change the way real estate agents operate in the industry.

As of July last year, new legislature has come about to ensure that all real estate agents operating in South Africa have a professional qualification. This means that all non-principal estate agents need to acquire their Further Education and Training Certificate in real estate on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level four, and for principals the National Certificate in Real Estate at level five. The estimated R9000 course costs will be funded by government via the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) who will provide bursaries for real estate agents, with preference given to companies that have previously made contributions to the Skills Development Levy (SDL). While some companies have indicated that the cost is an inconvenience, others see the benefits. Graham Lesley of Greeff Properties says: “It’s not an inconvenience for us at all in terms of costs, as every month we pay a skills levy and this is an excellent way to see training and development come out of the levies we pay, especially as it will enhance the potential of our agents.” South African Real Estate Academy CEO, Kevin Mullins, says that if the estate agency that an agent works for is registered and paying SDL via SARS, an agent may be able to access mandatory grant funding (different to the RPL bursaries) through Services Seta for all types of accredited training.

However, the new legislation has caused some grumbling by agents who have spent years receiving on-the-job training. Herschel Jawitz, CEO of Jawitz Properties says: “I think many of our agents who have been in the industry for a great many of years feel that the new legislation is rather frustrating, seeing it as something they will be forced to do and not necessarily as a means to add value to the industry. However,” he stressed, “as a long-term approach, it is a step in the right direction. Ensuring that agents have a qualification will significantly improve the calibre of those who, let’s face it, in many cases, need to improve.” Lesley agreed, saying: “This has been a long time coming and the industry desperately needs to be regulated like this.” Mullins says that the legislation will facilitate in the demise of agents providing unethical advice, as well as ensuring that there is a level of balance in the industry. “Many agents have picked up bad habits, a bit like drivers and the K53. Imagine if they were asked to take the K53 test again – how many would fail?” he asked. There is however, some saving grace for real estate agents that were registered before the new legislation came about, as the act provides recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Mullins says that RPL is a process of assessing an individual's knowledge and skill gained in a work context - however this was acquired - for the purpose of awarding them a formal qualification. RPL allows people who were previously excluded from formal education access to a qualification on the NQF. “The same standard qualification can be achieved by existing agents and principals that would take new entrants months to complete, which gives them an advantage due to their years of experience. RPL is a part-time process that takes three to four months,” said Mullins. Mullins indicated that every effort has been made to ensure that the RPL centre is as user-friendly as possible. Agents who have five years’ experience and complete the RPL will receive a conversion certificate. However, he stressed that all agents registered after the act will have to undertake a 12-month internship programme. Mullins says that the new legislation combined with a slowing economy has resulted in a significant drop of registered agents from 78 000 down to 45 000 in January this year. For Greeff, this is not exactly seen as a bad thing. Lesley says: “Most of our agents have completed the RPL, and are now up to speed with the new laws and legislation. They’ve tightened up their game so to speak. The fact that some agents in the industry won’t go through the RPL has resulted in many dropping out of the industry. This benefits us in the long run because, as the economy improves, a larger part of the cake is left for us.”

Mullins says that this is a very real factor, as the current 10,5% interest rate has reached its lowest level since May 2006 and he anticipates house prices to show growth from early next year. He says that agents should recognise that an investment in their education through quality training will pay exponential dividends in the long run, especially as now it seems they will receive greater market share than ever before. Article courtesy of , and is taken from their November/December 2009 issue.


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