Is the Industry Doing Enough?

Private Property South Africa
Property Professional

While the commercial real estate sector appears to have opened the door on transformation, the residential property industry door still seems to be firmly shut. Recently released statistics indicate that while transformation within the real estate industry still has a long way to go, there is an increase in the number of black estate agents working in the market place. The results of a recent poll show that black agents constitute 10% of the total number of practising estate agents. This is an improvement in the 4% of black agents who were registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) five years ago. According to Dr. Willie Marais, the National President of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEASA), in real terms the increase means that the number of registered black agents has risen from about 2000 to around 4200. However, this figure, while encouraging, is still far below the Property Sector Charter’s target on employment equity. According to the Charter, by 2012 black practitioners working in the property industry should have a 30% stake at management level, 15% of whom should be women, and 37.5% of agents should be black, of which 20% should be women. Portia Tau-Sekati, CEO of the organisation, says that the empowerment of blacks in the industry is an ongoing process. “Some people have said that it will be impossible to reach the agreed employment equity targets, given the current economical crisis. Our view on this, is what did they do about levelling the playing fields when the economy was doing well? In our opinion, instead of sitting back and blaming the economy, people should rather be asking themselves what they need to do to reach the required target.” The question is whether transformation is progressing at a sufficiently rapid pace. According to Tau-Sekati, there has been a willingness to transform the commercial property sector, with a slight improvement. There has, however, been no significant progress on the residential side of the industry. “People need to familiarise themselves with the Property Charter documentation and the Codes of Good Practice,” she said. “By going through the documents, they can ensure that they gear and prepare their own organisations, in order to achieve set targets as laid out in the Charter by the property sectors stakeholders. The more they know, the easier it will be to ensure that they meet these requirements. Having said that, people need to remember that the Property Charter’s role is not to drive the implementation of transformation, but rather to facilitate the process and to ensure that there is a conductive environment for transformation to take place, while reporting and monitoring progress based on the transformation of the sector.” There are a number of bodies representing the interests of black agents. Most of these are regionally based but the Black Estate Agents Forum of South Africa (BEAFSA) is, according to Tau-Sekati, growing and aims to go national. “I have met with these organisations and they all have similar goals and objectives and serve the same constituents. I have personally asked them to consider coming together or at least aim at working together. They have all requested to become signatories in the Property Charter, which has been approved. While each of the organisations will become signatories, they will have a singular vote that represents black estate agents. Despite the delays in transformation, Tau-Sekati, remains positive about the future of South Africa’s residential property market. “There are a number of reasons for this,” she said. “Government remains committed to its mandate to deliver affordable housing for all. The decision to rid the country of informal settlements by 2014 will continue to fuel the market. These two points, if marketed appropriately, will re-energise the secondary market and will stimulate the affordable residential property industry in a big way. The emerging ‘black diamond’ market continues to grow, fuelled by a conscious effort by this group to own their own property. In addition, the 2010 Soccer World Cup, could, if marketed well, prove to be a draw card and encourage visitors to see what South Africa has to offer and invest in property." Tau-Sekati also believes that black agents have welcomed the new educational standards. “I have always felt that everyone shares the dream of professionalising the industry. Although we do not have the figures to qualify this, it appears that the process has got off to a slow start. Unfortunately, it is human nature to leave things to the last minute. I personally feel that we should have comprehensive strategies in place that will encourage participants to qualify as soon as possible as I am not confident that our service providers will be in a position to cope with a last-minute rush as agents attempt to qualify before the targeted deadline.” Article courtesy of , and it taken from their Nvember/December 2009 issue

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