Picture: Jan le Roux, CE Rebosa; Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group
Rebosa (Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa) calls on the Minister of Human Settlements for an urgent revamp and simplification of the estate agency qualification framework to accelerate transformation in the industry.
The retention of interns is an industry-wide problem in the real estate industry says Jan le Roux, chief executive of Rebosa. He says currently there are 25 000 intern agents, representing half of all individuals in the industry. A third (33%) of these interns are BEE candidates but many might end up leaving the industry. The high drop-out rate especially among BEE interns is concerning as it hampers transformation of this sector.
According to Le Roux there are many interns who already exceed the maximum two-year period to qualify with some exceeding six years. Few of these will go on to complete the NQF5 qualification to become principal agents or business owners due to the cost, time and cumbersome requirements.
Current framework is counter-productive
Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group and a director of Rebosa, says the current educational framework involves an inordinate amount of paperwork, duplication and time wasting. An agent must register with an estate agency as an intern, complete a 12-month internship under active supervision of a principal or full status estate agent, submit a Portfolio of Evidence (logbook), complete the NQF4 Real Estate qualification and then pass the PDE4 professional designation exam. To qualify as a principal, you need to pass the PDE5 exam.
“It can take a few years and entrepreneurs from other industries shun the profession because of this. While the original objective was and is laudable, it has not produced the desired results,” says Seeff.
He explains that there is a lot of duplication between the NQF4 and Logbook and both take up substantial time which could be more productively spent. Although logbooks serve a purpose, it has become common practice for interns to copy logbooks. The submission, storage and the evaluation of logbooks are equally problematic. Seeff says further that the PDE4 subject matter to test competency is deficient and only requires a low pass across three sections. He suggests that more appropriate content could better prepare agents for a career in real estate.
Le Roux adds that there are also significant assessment challenges and bottlenecks caused by a shortage of qualified external independent moderators and assessors required by training service providers to uphold learner results. Furthermore, the Services Seta (SSETA) has limited verifiers for real estate which causes long delays in obtaining results and certification.
New way of thinking needed
Seeff says working with organised industry is vital to ensure the framework is informed by practical experience and is outcomes driven. The industry is entrepreneurial-driven and offers excellent employment and own-business opportunities, but the barriers to entry are prohibitive.
REBOSA proposes that candidates write the PDE4 and PDE5 exams before entering the industry, while still working in another sector or while studying at university or school. The EAAB would provide the learning material and at least four exams per year.
Upon joining an estate agency, the candidate would then complete a practical training course within six months of being issued with a Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC), failing which the FFC is withdrawn. During this time, all contracts and mandates must be co-signed by a qualified property practitioner.
“This would be an improvement on the current supervision process. Without this onerous burden, candidates can immediately start earning an income. Those with a PDE5 could then upon completion operate as principal agents or become business owners much sooner,” says Le Roux.
According to Le Roux this process will enable the current 25 000 interns to complete the course and qualify as property practitioners within four to six months. This will immediately boost the income of the EAAB as qualified agents pay a higher annual fee than interns. More importantly, transformation can accelerate as thousands of BEE candidates could quickly pass the PDE4 exam, enter the industry and start earning an income while being able to qualify within six months.
“Thousands more can complete the PDE5 exam enabling them to become principal agents and business owners. Those trading illegally then also have an option of a fast and practical way to become legal,” concludes Le Roux.