Want to pursue a career in real estate? Follow this step-by-step guide for all the information you need about becoming an agent in SA and earning commission.
You might have heard about ‘qualified real estate agent’ or perhaps even considered a career in the property industry, chances are that you started and then discarded your search due to all the jargon used or the various resources you needed to work through in order to get the full picture. We take an in-depth look at the process and what a real estate specialist has to do in order to earn their commission.
Getting qualified as an estate agent today is not as easy as it was in the past. “It is imperative for an aspiring estate agent to be provided with the correct training opportunities so that they are well equipped to earn a decent income working in an industry that is extremely competitive” warns Lara Machado, Sales Trainer at Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
This Guide covers the following:
- Definitions of terms used
- Who needs to have a real estate qualification
- The costs involved
- The basic requirements
- Get going – the 5 step process
Need to know before you get started:
Education Regulations means The Standard of Training of Estate Agents Regulations
EAAB means the Estate Agency Affairs Board
NQF Level 4 means the Further Education and Training Certificate required by non-principal estate agents
NQF Level 5 means the National Certificate: required by principal estate agents
PDE means the Professional Designation Examination conducted by the EAAB
PDE 4 means the Professional Designation Examination for non-principal estate agents.
PDE 5 means the Professional Designation Examination for principal estate agents
FFC means Fidelity Fund Certificate issued by the EAAB validating legal trade in property
Who needs to have a real estate qualification?
A real estate qualification is required by anyone who buys or sells property as a profession,
Negotiates to buy or sell property;
Canvasses or undertakes or offer to canvass for a lessee or lessor for rental of property;
Publicly exhibits a for sale or to let of property;
Collects or receives any money payable on account of a lease of immovable property or business undertaking; or
Renders any other service which the Minister of Human Settlements may specify by means of a notice in the government gazette.
What costs are involved?
As with any professional qualifications, there are fees applicable. The costs are not payable all at once, but rather at the various stages of the process. The total fees for the 2 year period is approx. R25 000.
What are the basic requirements?
The intern estate agent needs to complete the 12 month internship of being mentored by a professional and experienced estate agent. This requirement will ensure that the intern is provided with a personal record of all practical tasks completed and experience gained at the workplace.
The intern is expected to complete and maintain a logbook in which accomplished activities are recorded and signed-off by the principal/mentor/coach/supervisor assigned to assist and provide the intern estate agent with logistical support during the internship period.
There will be no exemptions granted for completing the internship or the logbook.
The intern estate agent must complete their FETC (the Further Education and Training Certificate) in Real Estate at level NQF 4 through with an accredited provider and receive a certificate of competence from Services SETA (the Services Sector Education and Training Authority)
This qualification has 150 credits, which equates to 1 500 notional hours (study hours needed to complete the course).
It is possible to combine the FETC NQF 4 qualification and the internship so that the intern estate agent can work on these two aspects of the qualification at the same time, as long as they have completed at least 8 months of their internship.
If the intern holds any degrees or diplomas in certain areas, it is possible to apply for and be exempt from completing the FETC.
Lastly an intern must also write and pass the Professional Designate Exam (PDE) after they have been found competent by Services SETA in their NQF Level 4 portfolio of evidence.
The PDE 4 must be passed within 2 years from the date of the first issue to the intern estate agent of an intern fidelity fund certificate, it grants the intern estate agent a status upgrade to full-status non- principal estate agent.
No exceptions will be granted from writing the PDE exam.
If an agent wants to further extend their education in order to become a principal and run their own business they must be found competent in NQF level 5 and PDE level 5.
It will take between 2-3 years for an intern estate agent to complete the whole process and 3-4 years for a principal. An intern agent may sell property in the meantime, but no legal documentation – mandates or contracts – may be signed off without the presence of the principal or full-status agent. Professional, registered designations are as follows - PPRE – Professional Practitioner in Real Estate (PDE 4) and MPRE – Master Practitioner in Real Estate (PDE 5).
The 5 step process
Step 1: Apply for a position at a registered estate agency as an intern
All persons seeking to enter the real estate agency profession are required to serve as intern estate agents, acting under the supervision of a principal estate agent or of a full status estate agent who has continuously held a valid fidelity fund certificate issued by the EAAB for a period not less than 3 years, thereby creating a mentor-protégé relationship, regardless of any academic, professional or other qualifications which they may hold.
Once the potential intern estate agent has decided on an employer of choice, they will still need to apply for the position, and go through the interview process. “We at Engel & Völkers have set a procedure of interviews which are completed before we select our agents, as we only take on individuals who will live up to the company values. The first interview after receiving a CV will be a telephonic one, if you meet the basic criteria, you will be invited for an official interview. Should a candidate pass the second phase, they are given an online test to complete which aids us in ensuring that the candidate will be successful” says Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. This is quite an important step, as the choice of employer could determine the success or failure of the potential intern estate agent.
Step 2: Register with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB)
Once the intern estate agent has successfully been employed, they need to register as an intern agent with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) to receive their “intern” Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC).
In order to register, a candidate needs to lodge a completed application comprising of:
Certified copy of a valid I.D book;
Certified copy of a valid passport if not a South African;
A valid work permit if not a South African;
Required payment or proof of payment for registration;
Letter of employment (on an official letterhead) signed by the Principal of the firm.
Step 3: Complete your 12 month internship
All new entrants to the estate agency profession are obliged to serve as intern estate agents for a continuous period of 12 months from the date of the first issue of their FFC. The aim of the compulsory internship period is to equip the intern estate agent with the relevant practical and theoretical workplace knowledge required to operate successfully in the sector. Each intern has to undergo training and practical knowledge of all of the following: Industry, Law, Finance, Marketing, Management, Administration, and Paralegal.
The intern estate agent is expected to complete and maintain a logbook in which accomplished activities are recorded and signed-off by the principal/mentor/coach/supervisor assigned to assist and provide the intern with logistical support during the internship period. Tasks recorded in the logbook include:
Show houses arranged with registers
Sales/lease contracts concluded
Property values established
Agendas for and meetings/training attended
Proof of time management and time/log sheets
Step 4: Complete NQF 4 through an accredited provider (150 points / 1500 hours)
It is expected that, after having served as an intern estate agent for a continuous period of 12 months and having been certificated against the FETC: Real Estate, the newcomer to the sector will have attained a similar degree of knowledge, skills and expertise as a practitioner who has already been active in the estate agency profession for quite some time.
What topics are covered in the NQF4?
Estate Agency Affairs Act and Code of Conduct
Real estate product and services
Legal environment – acts
Legal environment – contracts
Financial process FICA/tax/accounting
Marketing and selling/leasing – immovable property
Estate agency management
Agency administration and systems
The criteria for NQF4 qualification
The entrant must complete their internship training (NQF4 Qualification) with an accredited provider and receive a certificate of competence from Services SETA (the Services Sector Education and Training Authority)
Services SETA (SSETA) governs, controls and monitors education standards. The real estate industry falls under SSETA Trade and Industry. It is legislated that in order to be a full status real estate agent, the candidate must be found competent in the outcomes based NQF Level 4 Real Estate.
This qualification has 150 credits, which equates to 1 500 notional hours (study hours needed to complete the course). SSETA require 30% of the time spent studying to be in the classroom and the rest open book, on their own. It is designed so that the intern estate agent can easily complete the qualification at their own pace within the allocated time.
The ideal scenario is to complete the academic qualification simultaneously with the practical logbook in the workplace. The time frame for completion is 1 year for the logbook and 2 years for the academic qualification. The intern estate agent must maintain a Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) reflecting the various estate agency functions and activities that have been undertaken and performed during the course of the internship period. The PoE & Intern logbook is submitted to the EAAB for assessment and granting of NQF 4 status:
Intern estate agents holding relevant (certain subjects and experience) tertiary qualification, can upon application to the EAAB and having paid the required assessment fee, be granted an equivalency exemption against the NQF Level 4 and/or 5 real estate qualifications.
If the intern estate agent has exemptions for NQF4, they must submit their logbook for assessment together with the required documentation for exemption.
The Portfolio of Evidence (“PoE”)
The portfolio of evidence will be a separate file, carefully created and maintained by the intern estate agent and should align with the prescribed logbook activities.
All naturally occurring workplace evidence generated over the 12 month internship period, and reflecting the workplace learning experience of the intern estate agent, should be inserted.
The intern estate agent will be required to download and print the Portfolio Guides (questions) as they form the Portfolio of Evidence (PoE).
Please refer to the exemption matrix for details on who could qualify for exemption. Should the intern estate agent apply for exemption, their application will also be included in their PoE. The following documentation should be added:
a letter from the applicant indicating the NQF real estate qualification(s) against which the applicant seeks an equivalency exemption as well as whether or not the applicant currently holds a valid fidelity fund certificate issued by the EAAB and, if so, the status of that fidelity fund certificate (whether an ‘intern’, ‘non-principal’ or ‘principal’ fidelity fund certificate);
a copy of the candidate’s identity document;
the candidate’s full curriculum vitae;
original(s), or certified copy(ies), of qualifications either awarded to the candidate or in respect of which the candidate relies for the assessment of the equivalency exemption application;
original(s), or certified copy(ies), of the statement(s) of courses passed towards the attainment of the relevant qualification(s);
original(s), or certified copy(ies), of any other professional qualifications and/or designations that may have been awarded to the candidate; and such further information as the applicant wishes to disclose to the EAAB for the purpose of properly assessing the applicant’s equivalency qualifications.
Some approved Institutions:
Step 5: Write and pass your PDE4 (Professional Designate Exam)
The Professional Designation Examination (PDE) is an integrated test of knowledge and case study for estate agents. After the internship or after the 8th month the intern estate agent may apply to take their PDE4 exam with the EAAB. After successfully submission of the logbook and PoE, the intern will be allowed to enrol and undertake the Professional Designation Examination for non-principal estate agents (PDE4). The Education Regulations provide that no person may be registered as a full status estate agent unless that person has successfully completed the PDE 4 conducted by the EAAB.
The criteria for PDE qualification
Only estate agents that have already qualified or been exempted for the NQF 4 (Non-Principals) and NQF 5 (Principals) should apply to write the PDE;
Interns need to achieve 65% or higher in order to pass and be certified.
Upon passing PDE 4, the intern’s status will be automatically upgraded to a full status as well as the designation, Professional Practitioner in Real Estate (PPRE).
Once the intern estate agent is upgraded to a Full Status Property Sales Advisor, they can operate independently within the company they are employed by.
Earning CPD points
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the future in real estate, as it is in most other professional industries. This happens via road shows and seminars presented by the EAAB across South Africa on relevant topics including new legislation, changes, updates and amendments. It helps all agents and principals to stay abreast of ever-changing industry regulations relating to real estate, as well as new laws and acts. In order to maintain status and professional designation, every registered agent/principal is required to accumulate and maintain 60 CPD points in a rolling 3 year cycle (equivalent to 60 hours of training).
The process of becoming a Professional Practitioner in Real Estate may seem to be a long, tedious and intimidating one. Engel & Völkers understands that it is crucial for an intern estate agent to be provided with all the necessary tools, guidence and on-going training to assist them every step of the way.