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Industry training essential

Gone are the days when anybody could enter the property market and start selling houses.

The industry is far more complex than that and estate agents have to be many steps ahead of a very well informed public. Training is not a nice to have but essential. The long overdue NQF 4 and NQF 5 initiatives launched in 2008 ensure that estate agents will survive in the marketplace though ongoing skills programs are necessary to ensure they indeed thrive.

"Today's successful estate agents are not just sales people who can sway a buyer by clever rhetoric. The market demands knowledgeable, professional experts who can advise and inform on many levels. They have to be familiar with the state of the market, as well as being up to-date with current legislation and its implications on selling or buying a home. They also have to know what is being reported in the newspapers because clients refer to these articles and want opinions," says Russell Berkman, training director at Jawitz Properties.

The National Credit Act has virtually changed the face of the property market as we knew it and the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is following fast on its heels. The CPA can be confusing and knowledge, expertise and current training are vital to property practitioners in order to professionally service sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants.

A competent agent should provide prospective homeowners with an overview of the financial implications of buying a home. Part of which means informing on whether they can afford a bond, and furthermore, whether they qualify for one - given the bank's stringent lending criteria. They need to know that proof of income is a requirement, as is having enough money in hand to pay transfer duties as well as a five to ten percent deposit. And then there are rates and taxes, levies, utilities and maintenance costs to be taken into consideration. Collectively these costs determine the economics of owning a home. Without these, the decision to buy can be radically altered.

Berkman stresses that training is not all about making a sale and closing deals. Falling in love with a property is exciting and filled with expectations. Emotions are very much part of the process. After all, buyers are about to undertake the biggest investment of their lives and are bound to feel anxious particularly in light of the current uncertain global environment. At the same time, the seller is probably feeling diffident about selling a home full of nostalgia and memories. All of these have to be taken into account and the agent should understand this factor and be empathetic about their situation. When all the facts, analysis and evaluations have been concluded, the customer needs to be reassured of the soundness of the investment. Training is imperative, but it needs to be quality training, and that should be a major component of a property company's business.


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