Stringent qualification and professionalism standards now being enforced in the property industry has reduced the number of registered estate agents quite significantly. Figures from the Estate Agency Affairs Board indicate that this reduction has been in the region of approximately 60%, from 96 000 estate agents in 2007 to the current figure of approximately 38 000 across the country.
Seeff KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is actively attracting graduates into the real estate industry as their first career choice through a structured recruitment and career path process. Dave Jones, Regional Manager of Seeff KZN, describes the current status of the Seeff KZN staff complement and its graduate training. “Within KZN there are 13 Seeff branches which are independently owned, with a complement of 22 directors or shareholders. Of these owners, close to 30% are under 35 years of age, and are graduates themselves. Looking at the total agent body, 27% are under the age of 35 years. Of the young graduates, 5 have already risen to the top 20 in terms of sales in KZN.
“Knowing that to grow business effectively a younger echelon needs to be attracted and expanded for effective continuation and succession, Seeff took a forward-thinking approach and positioned itself as a company eager to attract younger staff for transformation in the industry, specifically graduates. We team them with an experienced mentor in each office to provide an effective balance between enthusiasm and experience, to build both sustainability and skills development.
“The Graduate Programme was launched in KZN during 2014 with an initial intake of 10 graduates. This year a further 10 graduates joined the programme. One of the critical success factors has been choosing graduates who are likely to be exempt from the required NQF 4 level certificate, since this fast-tracks the candidate into becoming a full-blown productive agent within 6 months. This together with both formal and informal training interventions further accelerates their journey to becoming a high-earning and productive individual.
“The vast majority of these interns are aged between 27 and 33 years, and they therefore have financial commitments. We offer the option of being paid a basic salary for the first 6 months in the way of a business loan against commissions to be earned.
“Feedback from these young graduates is that they now see realty as a career of progress, where earning potential is high and they can quickly move to a level where they can employ a team of their own assistants to build a business within a business.
“Transformation is essential to the future success of the property industry. Within the Seeff KZN stable 25% of the licences have black ownership. The latest intake of 7 graduates includes 6 people of colour, with an average age of 35 years.
“While it is true that there is no substitute for experience, growing a new breed of realtor through a structured programme in this way will not only change the image of the real estate agent to that of a business professional, but will also provide a ‘talent pipeline’ that will drive growth and results.”