Rebosa flexing muscle as voice for property sector

May 21, 2018 | Local Property

Richard Gray, chairman of Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (Rebosa): Photo: Rebosa

“Economic transformation and inclusion is central to the growth, development and sustainability of our sector and country in general”

These are uncertain and challenging times for the real estate industry, but due to growing member support, the industry has in Rebosa an ever stronger ‘voice’ to fight for their interests and find pragmatic solutions to industry issues with among them fast-tracking transformation, said Richard Gray, Rebosa chairman at the non-profit’s fifth AGM, held on Friday 18 May 2018.

Transformation remains urgent

“It is urgent for the country’s property sector to fast-track transformation and become part of the solution rather than looking for problems,” Gray told members attending the nnon-profit’s fifth Annual General Meeting, held in the Protea Hotel in Johannesburg.

He continued that the slow pace of transformation in the sector continues to be an area of concern for the board of Rebosa and added that the sector should focus on actively developing young people, women and people from previously disadvantaged communities to be able to participate meaningfully in the property industry.

“Economic transformation and inclusion is central to the growth, development and sustainability of our sector and country in general,” Gray said.

Rebosa took a clear stance against discrimination with the launch of the Rebosa Equality Pledge in 2016. Members are encouraged to show their support by taking the pledge agreeing to a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to all forms of discrimination. This drive continued in 2017 and they will continue to promote it, Gray said.

New legislation will impact industry

He said the years 2017 and 2018 have been uncertain and challenging times for the real estate industry in South Africa. Several pieces of new legislation are currently being contemplated or implemented, which will all impact the property sector.

  • The Property Practitioner’s Bill was approved by cabinet on 6 December. Rebosa is continuing to interact with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), the Parliamentary Committee on Human Settlements, the Minister and her advisors going forward.
  • The Amended Property Sector Code, setting a black ownership target of 27% for property owning companies, came into effect on 28 June 2017. Rebosa is currently holding meetings for members to have a clear understanding of their obligations to comply with the Code.
  • The Financial Intelligence Centre Act is yet to be implemented by the EAAB. Rebosa developed a real estate industry specific Risk Management Compliance Programme template and guidelines, to assist principals and business owners with the new FIC reporting procedures and requirements. Training will be arranged by the EAAB before implementation.
  • Draft regulations on the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) will be submitted to cabinet during the first half of 2018. Rebosa will be ready to comment and/or assist members when it happens.

The Private Property deal

The organisation was also instrumental in thwarting the plans of property portal Property24, owned by Media24, to take over their main rival and the country’s second largest property portal, Private Property. In the new deal, media company Caxton obtain a 50% shareholding, but Gray gave the assurance that the publisher will not be able to ‘willy-nilly’ raise advertising rates. Furthermore, agencies will be able to buy shares in Private Property at the same price as current shareholders.

Interactions with the EAAB

Rebosa have been proactively engaging with the industry’s governing body, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), among others to eradicate the backlog in the issuing of Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFC). According to Gray following their intervention the majority of outstanding FFC’s have been issued.

Rebosa was also instrumental in obtaining an extension of the first three year CPD rolling cycle, which ended 31 December to end March 2018, as the EAAB systems weren’t functioning and payments had not been allocated. The EAAB has still not applied any sanctions due to the difficulties experienced with the IT system.

Together with the EAAB Rebosa developed a new online query management system to streamline queries and reduce backlog. Rebosa in 2017 received 2 920 queries, all of which have since been resolved, Gray reported.

People acting as estate agents without complying with the educational requirements set by the EAAB or a valid FFC, as required by law, is a major issue for the industry. Gray encouraged members to report continue reporting unregistered agents online with the EAAB and also with Rebosa (through their Whistle Blower initiative on their website www.rebosa.co.za) to enable them to follow-up.

Engagements and membership

Rebosa has set up an educational steering committee comprising of industry educational specialists who are interacting with the various roleplayers involved with setting standards for real estate qualifications. To protect the interests of their members the organisation also engage with stakeholders such as the Community Services Ombuds Scheme, the Property Sector Charter Council, National Department of Human Settlements and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements as well as other member organisations.

Rebosa now has 26 multi-office members as well as 1 100 single office members. Collectively their members employ 15 340 estate agents, which “unequivocally makes Rebosa the most representative body in the real estate sector in South Africa today” Gray said.

Lastly, Gray thanked members for their support and emphasized the importance of building the membership “to become a stronger voice for the industry”. He referred to the power of the collective evident in the mining industry where the mining charter was effectively challenged. “It is only through the power of numbers that our collective voice will be heard,” he concluded.