Calling the experts

Training for estate agents is not merely a 'nice to have', it is in fact 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 now demands professionals who can do more than just sell a property, they need to inform and advise their clients on many different levels during the process. 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.

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.

Training is not just 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's not only training for training's sake . It's the quality of the training that matters that takes up a major component of our business.

Once clients appreciate that we understand what they are going through, they feel more confident in doing business with us. And that's what training is all about - building trust through knowledge and understanding.
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