Working as an estate agent is challenging. The property profession is a long-term career choice and requires the building of a trusted brand and reputation for agents and agencies. It usually takes newcomers at least six months to start earning commission, but the later rewards can be significant.
Being an estate agent is different from corporate jobs in a number of ways. The industry is highly entrepreneurial and rewards personal initiative accordingly. This means that financial rewards are in proportion to each agent’s own commitment, hard work and training.
In the past few years, estate agent training has undergone significant changes. To become a professional estate agent you can no longer join an agency, work for 12 months as a candidate and automatically earn the right to open an estate agency business.
• The first thing to do is to apply for an internship with an estate agency, which must hold a valid, current Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) from the Estate Agency Affairs Board, the governing body for the property industry.
• Once employed, you must hold an intern fidelity fund certificate (FFC) – also issued by the EAAB - for a minimum continuous period of 12 months.
• You must also pass the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) Real Estate NQF level 4 exam.
• Once you have passed the NQF 4 exam, you need to apply to the EAAB to write the Professional Designation Examination (PDE) to become a Professional Practitioner in Real Estate (PPRE).
• To become a principal of an estate agency, you must also pass the National Certificate Real Estate NQF level 5 exam to become a Master Practitioner in Real Estate (MPRE).
Who can apply?
To be eligible to work as an intern estate agent, you will need the following documents:
• A valid identity document, or a valid passport if you are not a South African citizen.
• A valid work permit if you are not a South African citizen. Almost anyone can become an estate agent, with some exceptions.
• A person who has been dismissed from a position of trust for improper conduct.
• A person who has been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty.
• An unrehabilitated insolvent.
Most established agencies are prepared to hire and train interns and help them qualify. During the internship period, interns are mentored by agents who have their NQF4 or NQF5 qualifications and a minimum of three years’ experience.
Estate agents’ internships run for one year with no break in the term. Interns must apply to the Estate Agency Affairs Board for their Intern FFC as soon as they start working for an estate agency. This is because the date of issue of the Intern Fidelity Fund Certificate indicates the first day of the 12 month period of the internship. Interns who are absent for more than 30 days will be required to work another 45 days in addition to the period they missed.
To complete the NQF Level 4 in Real Estate qualification, candidates must register with an training provider accredited by the Services SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority). The NQF Level 4 in Real Estate course includes lectures and assignments as well as building up a portfolio of evidence/log book.
Topics covered include:
• The principles of real estate.
• Property law and ethics.
• Sales and marketing techniques.
• How to run a business.
About 30% of the internship training is theoretical with 70% practical. The approximate cost to attend one of the courses is between R9 000 and R16 000, depending on which training provider you choose.
On completing the 12 month practical internship and NQF Level 4 Real Estate theoretical section, you will be asked to hand in your assignments, portfolio and log book to be assessed by the training provider. If all material is found to be complete, these will then be externally moderated.
If you are deemed to be competent, the Services SETA will issue a certificate of competency.
The next step is to write the EAAB Level 4 Professional Designation Exam (PDE). You must complete this within three years of first registering as an intern estate agent. After writing and passing the exam – which has a pass mark of 60% - a Full Status Fidelity Fund Certificate will be issued by the EAAB and you will then be recognised as a fully-fledged estate agent.
In line with Covid-19 restrictions, most training providers now provide extensive online training programmes. A number of estate agencies also run their own accredited training academies for their agents only. The general accredited training providers include:
Training to be an estate agent is a full time commitment. Although not yet considered to be qualified agents, as an intern with a valid Intern FFC you are still eligible to earn commission on the sale of property. However, commission is only paid out once the property transfer has been registered in the deeds office. This means you will need sufficient funds to cover your expenses for at least six to nine months as sales can take three to six months to register.
Becoming an estate agent is no longer a stop-gap or part-time job, but a real career choice with great prospects. It is a choice definitely worth considering for school leavers as well as graduates who are self-starters, people orientated and ambitious.