Advice and Opinion

Protect yourself by only using registered estate agents

Property transactions in South Africa are still, surprisingly, sometimes carried out by members of the public purporting to be agents operating legally, whereas these “agents” are working without a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) from the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Some do not even have the necessary training which, says Annette Evans, general manager of the Institute of Estate Agents, Western Cape, can open a buyer or seller up to becoming victims of fraud should they decide to deal with these so-called agents.

It is compulsory for professionals who earn money from holiday lets, property management, rental and sales of property and business broking, to pay into the Fidelity Fund which exists to cover losses the public may suffer due to the actions of an agent, and it is, therefore, in a buyer’s or seller’s own best interest to ensure any person dealt with is a professional in the real sense of the word.

The IEASA, Western Cape, regularly offer fully comprehensive induction training and provide the training facilities for the full national qualification framework (NQF4) training in the Western Cape for those interested in entering the industry. They strive towards ensuring that all the agents registered with them get the necessary training and qualification requirements.

“We strongly advise members of the public check that the agents they are dealing with have, first and foremost, a valid FFC, are registered with a professional body such as IEASA, and have got the necessary qualifications to deal in property. Membership to our organisation may be easily checked on our website at the click of a button,” said Evans.

With technology being as advanced as it is, and new property-finding and selling applications being developed, many might choose to go the DIY route to “save” money, but this is a false economy, she said.

If anything should go wrong while the deal is going through, large sums of money could be lost or spent in trying to salvage the deal.

It is also stipulated by the EAAB that no person shall perform any estate agency task without a valid FFC, nor may he claim or be paid commission on property transactions, and so, in knowingly dealing with non-registered agents, buyers or sellers who choose to do so are aiding and abetting the breaking of the law, said Evans.

“A home is probably the biggest single investment any person could make and putting large sums of money at risk is foolhardy. The best route is to find out from the outset if the agent you’re dealing with has the right credentials. It is your right to ask for proof of registration with the EAAB in the form of an FFC, as well as whether he or she is a member of an organisation representing the property industry,” said Evans.