Certain members of the real estate marketing sector heaved sighs of relief when the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) recently announced that the January 2014 deadline for all unqualified estate agents to achieve their NQF4 qualifications had been extended to June 2015.
“Before this announcement,” said Wayne Albutt, the Rawson Property Group’s Regional Sales Manager for the Western Cape, “we were heading for a situation where a small percentage of estate agents would, as a result of being unqualified, have either had to retire or work illegally, i.e. without official recognition.”
There still are, he said, some estate agents who, due either to old age or a reluctance to tackle study of any sort, have not even started on achieving competency recognition.
“In my view this is totally illogical because, although the work involved can take time, the EAAB qualifications are relatively easy to achieve and any estate agent who has gained some experience already would find that what is required of him is highly appropriate and useful,” said Albutt.
However, he added that sometimes the reason for an estate agent not studying is that they are, quite simply, uncommitted career-wise and probably not particularly successful.
“Such second league estate agents will now be able to operate in the industry for another 18 months, which is regrettable,” he said.
Had the EAAB stuck to its original deadline, said Albutt, any member of the public dealing with an estate agency in 2014 would have been more or less assured that he or she is now working with a qualified person, one of the many who knuckled down and completed the required process.
“In the current circumstances,” said Albutt, “my advice to any member of the public who is about to engage with an estate agent is to insist that he or she produces a valid up-to-date Fidelity Fund Certificate (such certificates are valid for one year). These certificates are issued only to qualified estate agents and those acting as intern agents.”
There will always, added Albutt, be a risk attached to dealing with an unqualified estate agent as such people are likely to lack knowledge about the legal and accounting aspects of property deals and can, therefore, cause clients to lose money and waste time over their transactions.
“An inefficient, unqualified estate agent can all too often extend the stressful marketing period almost indefinitely as they fail time and again to achieve a sale. These delays carry the extra disadvantage that any house which is seen to remain on the market will acquire a stigma which makes selling it even more difficult.”
Had the EAAB’s deadline been kept, said Albutt, there would have been a shortage of estate agents in South Africa in 2014 – and the industry would have been in a position to recruit more competent newcomers.
“In this industry,” he said, “we have to get the message across that real estate offers a really great career, one in which your earnings can be substantial and are directly related to the energy and enthusiasm you put in. In addition, such a career carries with it the huge satisfaction of knowing that every sale is likely to enhance the buyer’s lifestyle and that of his family and in the long run increase their wealth.”
Right now, said Albutt, the opportunities for a new estate agent are ‘better than ever’ because in the big metropolitan areas the market has now swung in favour of sellers and demand is increasing. Sales are, therefore, relatively easy to achieve.
Those contemplating a career change to the real estate industry, said Albutt, should head for one of the big national groups because such groups not only offer on-going training but give subsidies which cover the cost of NQF4 and NQF5 training. These would otherwise have had to be borne by the individual – and they are quite expensive.
“One of the big regrets of my own life is that I had nine years working in other fields before I discovered the satisfaction of a real estate career. I wish now that I had been in this field from start,” said Albutt.