SA Estate Agents ready to play a ‘vital role’ in housing transformation

Many more South Africans should soon be able to access professional real estate services, thanks to Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.

So says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, who notes that the Minister made it clear during his recent two-day summit with leaders in the South African estate agency industry that he is determined to close the gap between affordable housing and the more established market, and sees the industry playing a vital role in this integration.

“We totally agree with his vision of a de-racialised and transformed housing scenario, and the part that properly trained and professional agents can play in bringing this about to promote widespread wealth creation and economic growth.

“We are also encouraged by his willingness to address certain issues in the industry that urgently need to be resolved before this can come about, starting with the proper functioning of the Estate Agency Affairs Board(EAAB) as the statutory regulator of the industry.”

Everitt regards as positive the transfer of responsibility for the EAAB from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Department of Human Settements, and the fact that an administrator was swiftly appointed to put its affairs in order.

“This process is going well, according to the report back at the summit of the administrator, Advocate Taswell Papier, and we fully support his efforts to break down the antagonism and suspicion which have grown up between the EAAB and the industry and replace them with a co-operative working relationship.”

The second issue that needs to be addressed, he says, is “compliance for all” with regards to both the qualifications and the registration required to practice as estate agents. “The majority of established real estate companies have no issue with the need for a system of rigorous agent training and registration, “or with the need for trust accounts and audits to ensure that our clients’ funds are being safely administered.

“We seriously want a ‘clean’ real estate industry, not least because it is good for business. But we also want the rules to be the same for everyone, so that the reputation of the whole industry is not put at risk by untrained and unregistered bogus agents whose purpose is often only to cheat as many consumers as possible out of purchase or rental deposits before ‘disappearing’.
“As discussed at the summit, compliance would also be made easier if all the various pieces of legislation that currently affect estate agents and which have to be taken into account in every property transaction could be simplified or perhaps drawn together into just one or two Acts.”
As for the transformation of the South African property industry to be more representative of all races, genders and ages, which was the third major issue raised at the summit, Everitt says: “We also fully support this objective, as do most large companies where, it must be said, much transformation has already taken place and continues to be encouraged.

“And we believe the pace will be increased as the Minister continues his drive for the clean-up and integration of the housing market as a whole, including the construction, auction and property management sectors as well as the estate agency industry.”

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