3 industry issues you should know about right now

Jul 31, 2017 | Newsletter content

REBOSA CEO Jan le Roux outlines some big issues that the property industry is keeping an eye on

1. Property Practitioners Bill

The importance of the new Bill cannot be overestimated as it will dictate how the property industry operates for decades to come.

REBOSA has been gearing up to comment on this Bill for some time. We have now submitted detailed comments to the Minister of Human Settlements – in total 108 points of positive criticism. We will continue in this vein; we have requested a meeting with the Minister and for the right to address the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements on this issue. REBOSA also intends interacting with ANC and opposition parliamentarians as much as possible. The existing Act has been in operation since 1976. We have published the Bill and our comments on our website and started a Q&A column. We invite all agents to submit questions. REBOSA has hosted a number of countrywide road shows to communicate the challenges of the Bill to members of the industry to ensure that everyone is informed.

As an organisation, we are disappointed with the Bill, considering that the process of revamping the legislation started in 2008. Nine years in the making, we hoped that a more dynamic version of the
current Bill would have been put on the table.

2. Realignment of real estate qualifications

The following real estate qualifications are currently registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). They are a core part of the ongoing education, training and professionalisation process of the real estate sector.

• National FET Certificate in Real Estate – SAQA ID 59097 | NQF level 4 | Credits 150
• National Certificate in Real Estate – SAQA ID 20188 | NQF level 5 | Credits 135

Both fall under the occupational qualifications sub-framework. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Delegated QA Functionary is the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SSETA). The registration end date for both qualifications is June 30 2018. The last date for enrolment is June 30 2019.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) says these qualifications come from previous qualification development models that are still active and therefore need to be taken through
a “conversion process”. Following a meeting to discuss this realignment of qualifications with SSETA and QCTO, REBOSA is now forming a steering committee comprising industry leaders and education professionals to offer input on alternative or new occupational qualifications to replace the current NQF 4 and 5 legacy qualifications within the real estate sector.

3. Property portals

Zillow is a US media company that says it “sell ads, not houses”. But the company has just waded into the complicated process of selling a home by launching a new product called Instant Offers. The initiative is billed as a way for home owners to avoid traditional hassles and sell quickly. However Zillow might downplay this move as a “test”. Whatever US law says about its role, the company is sitting in the middle of the transaction and acting, in effect, as a broker. (Find out how Instant Offers works by visiting propertyprofessional.co.za.)

Zillow found some agents willing to support them in the test and the results are being called “positive”. Inman.com reports: “Instant Offers resonates with prospective sellers and it could put agents on their trail.” But US estate agents immediately exerted huge pressure on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to take a stance against the initiative. Zillow chief business officer Greg Schwartz went to great lengths to explain that Zillow is in support of estate agents, as 70% of their revenue is derived from agents. But since the test results are positive it would be fair to assume that Zillow is unlikely to discard Instant Offers. If a portal as big as Zillow can succeed in replacing estate agents and thereby acquire a share of commissions, they are likely to do so.

In South Africa it can be argued that leading portals Property24 and Private Property are even more dominant than Zillow in the US. They should be interested in the results of the test, no doubt. Property portals are business ventures that have estate agents as their clients, but the temptation to earn at least part of the commissions must be there. Estate agents agree that 80-90% of their leads (buyers) are derived from property portals. Agents’ recent fears of disintermediation by portals reached new heights with the current attempt by Property24
to acquire Private Property. Reportedly this is subject to legal issues and will eventually have to be approved by the Competition Commission. Agents’ fears in this regard are well founded. South African estate agents managed to gain control of their own print advertising, which one may argue saved the industry over the past decade or so. Unfortunately an opportunity to do the same where property portals are concerned did not come to pass. But it’s not too late to take steps to establish an industry-owned portal. It would be irresponsible of estate agents to allow unrelated business interests to end up in a dominant position and thereby dictate terms to the property industry.