Major property agents respond to President Ramaphosa’s call to support the youth and provide an enabling career environment.
Last week President Ramaphosa, in his From the Desk of the President newsletter, focused on the nation’s youth, highlighting that “1.2-million young people enter the labour market annually, which translates into almost two-thirds that remain neither working nor studying.” He appealed for government, business, labour and civil society to work together, “to ensure that the burden of unemployment does not continue to weigh down our young people, crush their spirits and cause them to become despondent.
“For our country to prosper and thrive, we must do all within our means to ensure young people can participate in our economy in a meaningful way, whether it is in formal employment or self-employment.”
The property market is ideally positioned to respond to this challenge, and does so through the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and the Services SETA (SSETA). Beyond both these organisations’ initiatives however (and looking past university and TVET property courses and degrees) are the industry players, more specifically the estate agency groups, which are active in creating an enabling environment for the youth to enter the industry.
How property agents add extra value
Most agencies offer inhouse training, which is especially helpful when the youth are working towards the Real Estate NQF qualification required to be an agent, “but they need further support from the companies themselves,” says Herschel Jawitz, CEO of Jawitz Properties. “The challenge of financial support for new entrants has in part been overcome by learnerships from the SSETA but it may not be enough.”
“It’s a valid point,”, says Lanice Steward, Head of Training at Pam Golding Properties, “because one of the limiting factors for youth entering the sales side, is that there is no salary and therefore they are unable to finance themselves for, at a minimum, the first six months or possibly longer. In addition they need a car, cellphone and computer.”
In agreement is Myles Wakefield, CEO of Wakefields Real Estate: “New entrants must have the means to ‘float’ themselves financially but once established, they become successful rather quickly; they bring a fresh approach to real estate, a unique understanding of technology and media, and can meet seller’s needs in innovative ways which stands them in good stead for a long-lasting career.”
Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group concurs: “A career as an estate agent is one that is unlikely to be replaced by growing digitalisation and the use of artificial intelligence because the client preference in this industry is for personal interaction in the final choice and purchase of a home. This is true regardless of whether an agent makes extensive use of technology to reach that point, and/or the automation of much of the post-sale administration.”
Beyond traditional sales talent
Administration is highlighted as one of the career opportunities for the youth. Kotzé also reminds us that beyond traditional sales and rental property markets, there are other activities within the sector for young people to acquire skills such as IT, administration, office management, human resources and valuation to name a few, and even more if they move into the commercial sphere such as facilities management, quantity surveying, property development and portfolio and office management.
This is where the balloon really expands for the youth. Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group says that there are many roles they can play before becoming an agent. “For example they can work under supervision in digital and social media marketing, human resources, CRM or working as agent’s assistants, canvassers and rental property administrators. If they then decide they are ready to become intern agents, they are paired, in our company, with experienced agents who mentor them all the way through until they write their board exam and can work on their own.
“This sector offers excellent growth and good earnings prospects,” says Everitt, “And it’s very important for young people contemplating a career in real estate, and indeed their parents, to know that it is a real career with plenty of opportunities to advance and earn well.”
Types of opportunities
Ronel Bornman, the National HRD Manager of Seeff Property Group presents some of the more, but often not considered, traditional roles. “Such as, business broking, social housing, photography, marketing, auctioneering and valuations.
“One of the best places to start if young people want to grow into becoming an agent is offering house sitting services, and support of administrative tasks,” she says. “In this way, and only under the supervision of a full status agent, a young person/graduate/job entrant can obtain the knowledge, skills, maturity and emotional intelligence to deal with clients who are selling and buying what is likely the biggest investment in their lives.”
“By doing a regular job, they will be earning a salary,” says Steward. “Also, in some instances, a full status successful agent will employ an assistant to expand their business, and if that youth is studying towards the NQF simultaneously, they can earn as they build skills and qualifications. ”
Internship, and mentorship, is crucial when officially working towards registration as a full status agent. “Internship at Chas Everitt is very much a practical apprenticeship,” says Everitt, “and while it is one that prepares young people to be the exceptional agents we want them to be, it also develops the resilience and determination they will need to really thrive in this industry.”
Across the board everyone interviewed had a good news message: the industry is in need of, and open to, new young new entrants with high and exciting energy levels. The sector has reinvented itself; gone is the old image of an estate agent sitting in a showhouse waiting for potential buyers. Instead there is a dynamism that reflects across all aspects of service, with new sales models that continue to evolve, with and without technology, and which is likely to be further driven by the enthusiasm of youth.