It’s business as usual, despite the EAAB debacle

Things came to a head with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) when Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, decided to place the Board under administration. The Minister has also requested the Special Investigation Unit to look into the board’s dealings.

“From the Machanik saga, a board member at the time, to the unfortunate events around Mrs Mapetla and her successors all contributed to a less effective controlling body for the industry being in place, “ says Jan le Roux, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group. He goes on to indicate that the Minister’s intervention is a welcome move and that matters can only improve from here on in.

It will take some time to delve to the bottom of the mismanagement and to turn the board around. The most pertinent question for the public however is how - if at all - the affairs of the EAAB affect us? Broadly speaking, not at all; “it’s business as usual for the average buyer and seller,” believes Jan le Roux, “estate agents are better trained than ever before and mostly the very experienced, successful agents survived the credit crunch and are still in business today.  It is fair to say that the level of service consumers can expect from agents today is possibly higher than any point in time in our history.”

What exactly does the EAAB do and why is it imperative to have it operating correctly? Possibly the Estate Agent’s Affairs Board’s most vital function is that of regulating the industry – ensuring that practicing agents are issued with a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) in order for them to work legally. The Board is also tasked with inspections, investigations and complaints.

As such the board serves an important function, to the public’s benefit, in terms of enforcing compliance amongst agents; hence ensuring proper service is rendered to the public.

“We have been assured by the Minister that agent registrations and such like will continue and the public can therefore rest assured that it is business as usual”, says le Roux.

That being said, an item that is very often forgotten is that apart from the Agencies Affairs Act, there is also a Common Law.  The relationship between agent and principal stems from Roman times and clients have recourse in the case of mishaps in terms of the law of the land as well.

However, as with every other business, it remains the prerogative and duty of the consumer to contract with qualified people who they like and trust. The old Roman adage of caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies as far as the appointment of an agent to sell your property is concerned, as well.  In this, our industry is no different from any other.  I advise clients to properly interview agents, look at the proposed marketing plans, obtain references from other satisfied sellers and the rest.

The old adage remains true – do your homework when buying a property, both in terms of the home you purchase and the estate agent you choose to work with – it’s business as usual.

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