The latest figures from South Africa’s Estate Agency Affairs Board show that currently only 32 18 estate agents are working in the formal recognised sector of the industry.
Of these, 10 373 are fully qualified agency principals, 12 162 are full status qualified estate agents and 10 183 are interns.
It is now law that all new entrants to the industry, regardless of whatever qualifications they may have, have to be registered with the EAAB as interns and must be monitored by their principal or a full status estate agent (who has had a Fidelity Fund Certificate for at least three consecutive years) for at least 12 months.
According to the law, interns are not allowed to do anything that could affect the outcome of a sale unless they do so in the presence of and under the supervision of a mentor. All documentation, for example, has to be completed under the mentor’s surveillance and any property valuation can only be accepted if the mentor has also inspected it. Similarly, any negotiation has to be done under the guidance of the mentor.
Another intern stipulation that will prove difficult to apply is the one saying that an intern has to inform any client that he or she is still an intern. Although there will always be exceptions, clients may object to this and prefer to deal with a qualified estate agent, thereby denying the intern the opportunity to get the necessary experience.
Yes another issue is the fact that an intern is expected to keep a logbook of all his work activities and this has to be approved and signed off by the mentor. However, the EAAB will never have the staff or the time to assess these logbooks adequately.
To give an intern the full monitoring required by the EAAB would probably mean that the mentor would have to devote as much as half his working time to this task – which only a few qualified estate agents will have the time to do. Inevitably, estate agents and principals would be reluctant to be involved and this will mean that they hold back on taking on interns, meaning that the EAAB’s rulings have created a barrier to entry into the profession and are holding back transformation in the sector.