Industry transformation a priority

A recent two-day Estate Agency Industry Affairs Summit was held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand to address the burning issues that are currently being experienced within the property industry.

Matters that were discussed by the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, included the structure and role of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), transformation of the industry and the education of real estate agents.

The aim of the summit was to map out a shared and inclusive future for the industry. Sexwale said that the drive towards professionalism requires the commitment, support and constructive engagement of all role players with the EAAB performing a catalyst role in the transformation.

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that it is very encouraging to see that Tokyo Sexwale and the Department of Human Settlements are taking a proactive approach to resolving the issues within the industry. “The fact that the various problems are being discussed and steps are being taken to arrive at resolution, is a move in the right direction to cleaning up the property sector. We fully support the department’s commitment to the improvement and eradication of non-compliant agents who have tarnished the industry’s name,” he says.

A few months ago the EAAB was placed under administration and Sexwale called for a Special Investigating Unit to probe the EAAB and the state of its Fidelity Fund. Summit discussions regarding the EAAB involved further expansion on the imperative steps to be taken in order to get the EAAB affairs in order, along with the reappointment of new board members who will be able to initiate and follow through on the steps required to keep the EAAB on the correct path in the future. Also the role of EAAB needed to be more visible and supportive of estate agencies.

“The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) is committed to becoming a world class regulator, achieving standards of excellence, regulating a fully compliant industry that benefits consumers and serves the public interests,” says EAAB Administrator, Taswell Papier.

A higher level of competence will assist in ensuring that the EAAB’s Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFC) are issued on time. The late issuing of FFC’s have been the cause of discontentment among many estate agents in the past. These issues are now being addressed and a notable improvement is expected in the short term.

With regard to the Fidelity Fund, Papier said that it was an instrument to be used to protect the public from theft and professional negligence perpetrated by estate agents. Emphasis will be placed on improving the structure of the fund, insuring and re-insuring levels and categories of risks. The fund has grown to an estimated R600 million and all figures and statistics have been fully disclosed and reported on in the EAAB’s audited annual financial statements. “Complete transparency of how the Fidelity Fund is managed is of outmost importance and allows the public to scrutinize the management of the fund. This is essential for building trust between the EAAB and those who deal with them,” says Goslett.

Regarding the topic of transformation, Sexwale challenged industry players to play a bigger role. "The Real Estate Agency Industry is critical for the deracialisation and transformation of human settlements landscape in the country. It has a huge potential to become a catalyst for economic growth. Make recommendations and good suggestions, it is my job to sort out this mess,” he says.

The goal is for the industry to be more representative of all races and genders, with an emphasis on attracting the youth into the industry. During 2008 there were approximately 80 000 estate agents, while in the current market there are only 40 000 as a result of the global economic recession.  According to industry statistics 89% of the sector is dominated by white males over the age of 58 years old.

Goslett says that RE/MAX of Southern Africa statistics reflect differently to the industry norm with  the majority of their agents under 50 years old and mostly female. “Although most of our agents are younger than the average age of agents within the property sector, the average level of experience in the industry among RE/MAX agents is over 10 years,” he says. “We fully support the Department of Human Settlements vision and look forward to the positive change in the industry,” Goslett concludes.

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