While the market is active, sellers should guard against being swayed by charisma and the promise of a high price and ensure they do not overlook the importance of ticking all the boxes before awarding a mandate for the sale of their property.
According to Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group, ensuring the agent is properly qualified and in possession of a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) is vital because it offers protection not just for sellers, but also for buyers as well as for the agent.
The importance of a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC)
In terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act (soon to be replaced by the Property Practitioner's Act) an agent must have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) to receive payment or commission from a property sale. To obtain an FFC, the agent (including intern agents) must be registered with the EAAB who issues these.
FFCs are valid for 12-months and must be renewed by 31 October annually. Sellers are entitled, and it is recommended, to ask to see the FFC of an agent to check its validity on the document itself as well as with the EAAB where you can search whether someone purporting to be an agent is in fact registered as such.
By dealing with an agent with a valid fidelity fund certificate, you are not just confirming that the agent is legitimate and appropriately skilled, but the transaction would be covered by the Estate Agents Fidelity Fund (administered by the EAAB) should the need ever arise to lodge a claim with the fund.
Intern vs full status agent
The FFC will identify the status of the agent. Only full status and principal agents may sign legal documents including the mandate and offers to purchase. An intern agent must disclose their status to the seller and all legal documents must be co-signed by a full status agent or the principal agent.
An intern agent is someone who is working towards their NQF4 and PDE4 qualification. Once qualified, they will be identified as a full status agent.
Sellers need to be aware of the qualifications required for real estate agents so that they are able to enlist a qualified agent prior to awarding a mandate for their property.