Advice and Opinion

IEASA – property owners beware: DIY sales transactions not as simple as they seem

Although the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa welcomes competition in the real estate market, it is with some concern that attention is drawn to a recent article in the press regarding the property portal, Call Owner, says Lanice Steward, president of IEASA.

There is currently through the Estate Agency Affairs Board an on-going drive to ensure that all agents have a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) and complete their Continual Professional Development (CPD) training, as well as write qualifying examinations.

“There is a good reason for this. There could be a perception that buying or selling a property is as easy as buying or selling a bicycle. However, it is a lot more complex than that. Firstly, it is highly likely that the seller will be unable to determine the correct market price of his property and might not achieve as much as he would have had he been given sound advice and price counselling. Secondly, the seller is going to incur additional expenses in the marketing of the property on the well-known portals or newspapers as buyers are unlikely to search on an unknown portal,” said Steward.

“In addition, there is a reason why there is ever increasing legislation in South Africa to protect consumers (electrical, gas, beetle, electric fences and water certificates) and to comply with international and local legal requirements (FICA and FAIS), to name only a few”, said Steward. This is because in most instances it is a property owner’s biggest asset and the buyer is in all likelihood going to require a bond and would need bank approval. One of the roles of the estate agent is to ensure that the seller’s asset is protected until transfer and that the buyer is secure in the knowledge that the seller owns the property, their deposit is protected (deposited into a trust account and either held by the conveyancing attorney or the real estate company), and that they are aware of all the defects and faults in the house.

There have been many different companies started over the past number of years to assist the seller in cutting out the agent but none have been successful because of the above reasons.

“The Institute of Estate Agents would like to urge both buyers and sellers to deal with qualified agents and to ask to see the agent’s FFC as well as their membership of IEASA or any other body representing the industry. Dealing with someone who is qualified to advise and assist goes a long way to ensuring peace of mind in what could be a very stressful time”, she said.