A new champion for real estate

A new champion for real estate

MAIN IMAGE: Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, chairperson National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC)

The National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC), led by dynamic chairperson Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, says while encouraged to see their efforts to obtain relief for the property sector is slowly bearing fruit they will not rest until the real estate sector is reopened.

It is expected that most of the country will ease into Alert Level 3 before the end of May (it remains to be seen what will be decided about the current Covid-19 ‘hot spots’, especially the so-called ‘epicentre’ Cape Town and to a lesser extend Johannesburg and Durban). Currently, according to the regulations, only commercial real estate activities will then be allowed to recommence in full, but, especially in view of recent events, there appears to be reason for some optimism that government will reconsider amending the regulations to allow all real estate agents to work during level 3, subject to the recommended health and safely protocols.

The NPPC is the newly formed representative body for the broader property sector of South Africa and collectively represents a membership of over 46 000 practitioners in the residential and commercial real estate sector. On 27 April the NPPC appealed for the reclassification of both these sectors to Alert Level 4. In the same submission was also a request that moving home should be permitted subject to government regulations.

The NPPC also approached the industry’s regulating body, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), about possible relief measures for real estate agents such as the waiver of all CPD fees for 2020, extension of the audit submission deadline until 31 December and a payment holiday on late exam fees and fines until February 2021.

When the lockdown began in March, the Deeds Office closed as well which meant no property transfers could take place and estate agents dependent on commission were not able to earn an income. Most of these agents work full time on commission and don’t pay UIF, so they also don’t qualify for any of the government relief packages which has left them financially exposed. According to the NPPC, the real estate industry is conservatively projecting a decline of at least 40% for 2020 which is likely to persist into 2021. Mutshekwane explains that this will undoubtedly cripple many of the smaller businesses and put enormous strain on commissions.

“Without meaningful financial relief measures, and if the real estate sector activities remain unable to trade until Level 2, the property sector is likely to experience a mass involuntary exodus from the industry which would be highly detrimental to all. It is important that the EAAB remains mindful of this, which we believe they are, as we understand that proposals have been made to the Ministry to that effect,” says Mutshekwane.

“Now more than ever, the industry has to be united in our call to re-open the sector. Having the regulator support this call is very encouraging and will certainly strengthen our efforts,” she adds.

COGTA and EAAB response encouraging

The first positive sign was government’s announcement that the Deeds Office will reopen in May which came into effect on 13 May and property transfers have since been registered. Secondly, on 7 May the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced that people will be allowed to move to new homes. Last week she issued amended new Directions to also allow people to move to new business premises. Also in last week, the EAAB’s CEO Mamodupi Mohlala announced their Covid-19 support measures for the real estate sector.

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“It is certainly encouraging to see that the inputs made by the NPPC to the EAAB and to COGTA have been considered and an official response has been received from the EAAB with respect to some of the proposed relief measures,” responds Mutshekwane.

According to Mutshekwane the NPPC have been in direct contact with various national departments including COGTA and the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and have received responses from both. “It has been confirmed that our inputs have been included in the DHS departmental submission to the National Coronavirus Command Council chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“As our line ministry, the Department of Human Settlements is an important stakeholder that we look forward to working more closely with in future,” she adds.

The EAAB’s CEO Mohlala last week said the EAAB has joined with the estate agents in their appeal to have the real estate sector reclassified as Alert Level 4 and has also submitted recommendations in support of this to the DHS. The regulator has also agreed to the following relief measures, pending final approval by DHS Minister Lindiwe Sisulu:

  • Deferment of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) fees

Pending approval, the EAAB proposes to delay the payment of CPD fees. CPD sessions will be made available on the regulator’s online platform. (The dates when the online sessions will be made available is yet to be scheduled on the EAAB’s online platform. Ed).

  • Concession in respect of late audit report submissions

The EAAB did submit a proposal that the deadline for the submission of audit reports be extended.

  • Payment holiday for exam fees, fines and penalties

The Board will not consider a payment holiday on any historical debt, but will at a later date make an announcement about a payment holiday on penalties for FFC renewals.

Re-opening real estate sector remains top priority

Currently the NPPC is continuing to advocate for the re-opening of the sector, working alongside DHS and the EAAB and engaging with the relevant national government departments. “The main priority at this stage is to ensure that the correct re-opening health and safety protocols are adopted and adhered to and that our recommendations thereof are taken into consideration. We also continue to engage with various industry bodies to enhance the draft Property Practitioners Regulation following the extension of the public consultation deadline,” explains Mutshekwane.

Lastly, on the all-important question whether estate agents can hope for an announcement that they will ALL be able to work during level 3, Mutshekwane concludes with saying that “it’s hard to say at this stage but we remain optimistic”.

Showing 23 comments
  • Desiree Bedhasie
    Reply

    When will we know about the CPD fees relief and when will we be allowed to proceed with the online courses for CPD points.
    Many Thanks
    Desiree

  • Elise van Dyk
    Reply

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards
    Elise van Dyk
    Just Property Blouberg

  • Marlene
    Reply

    The deadline for cpd was end of March before lock down so this is irrelevant because most astute estate agents already paid and have not been able to do any e learning .

  • Carol-Ann kotze
    Reply

    If the CPD Fees are waivered for 2020, what will be the repercussions for those of us who have already paid.

  • NATASHA SWANEPOEL
    Reply

    For the agents that have paid for the CPD already, a suggestion that the payments be transferred to the next CPD cycle in 2021.

    • Harry
      Reply

      Agree CPD payments must be transferred to 2021 cycle.

  • Albé Gouws
    Reply

    I agree with Marlene, I have also paid for CPD 2020 as prescribed before end of March 2020, but no online courses or events have been announced, I have even already submitted my firms financial statements for 2019 to the EAAB!
    Why can Real Estate Agents only start working actively at level 2 does not make sense because social distancing and sanitizing can be easily performed? Without meaningful financial relief measures how are estate agents supposed to survive until level 2 of which there is no fixed time-line?

  • Rowan
    Reply

    Well done NPPC!! Please stand with agencies regarding the formal return of normal estate agencies activity as well as the other proposals you have made. EAAB…… well enough said.

  • Brendon Funnell
    Reply

    Slow news week 🙁

    • Hans Snyman
      Reply

      Thank you Vuyiswa Mutshekwane. It is high time that the industry speaks with one voice.

      • Netta
        Reply

        Thank you for adressing the real issue – the fact that agents are not allowed to work. Meanwhile, moving companies, cleaning companies and garden services are working… Bringing teams of people from different locations into private homes. It makes no sense. As one person, working in the suburb where I live, I am closer to my clients in Spar than I will be with a home viewing.

  • Hester Stokes
    Reply

    Full spectrum of the real estate sector should be allowed to operate immediately.

    NO open or show houses should be allowed. Only view-by-appointments – with all necessary safety protocols in place for seller, buyer and agent!

  • Remo Zambetti
    Reply

    The fact that the CEO of the EAAB has stated that ” the EAAB proposes to delay the payment of CPD fees”, as apposed to scrapping the CPD fees for 2020, shows just what the EAAB is all about, a gravy train run by a useless incompetent management who have lost touch with reality.
    I suggest that all EAAB management should take a 50% cut in salary packages for the duration of the lockdown!

  • Willie Grobler
    Reply

    I specialize in the sale of farms. A large portion of a sale is the commercial content of the farm. Am I allowed to carry on selling farms by definition of the commercial nature of the transaction.
    If agents specializing in sales of commercial property are allowed, surely I must also be allowed

  • Marietjie
    Reply

    It does not make sense to put on your mask and go to shops , hanging around with lots of people in stores where all all are touching groceries on shelves and not obeying social distance, while estate agents can. not and may not meet with a single viewer and seller(all masked, sanitised and adhering social distance )at a for sale property. It just does not make sense. Meanwhile estate agents sits with zero income as under normal circumstances commision only pay out after registration which on average takes 3months after a successful sale. Currently there is no indication for the opening of level 2 to go into business again. Does this mean it can take up to a year before an estate agent can earn any income?

  • Najmie
    Reply

    Municipalities are closed. We are therefore struggling to get rates clearance certificates as to proceed with the property transfers. Please municipalities assist our real industry sector as we are in need as well and the parties involved.

  • Caroline Reed
    Reply

    Morning valuable information indeed, but I don’t see handling of disputes, are you the relevant body? Thanks.

    • Helene Meissenheimer
      Reply

      Hi Caroline, no I am not. The EAAB as the regulating body for the industry would be responsible for that.

  • Nontsikelelo Mgayiya
    Reply

    These are encouraging news and I am thankful for the efforts and unity of the NPPC, under the leadership of its Chairperson Ms Mutshekwane. Not forgetting the behind the scene lobbying and representation by Ms Mamodupi Mohlala together with the EAAB Board, without all of them this shift could not have been realized. Looking forward to the final step for the survival of many of us, “agents going back to work”!!

  • Leila Abdel Karim
    Reply

    The government should have opened the real estate sector already in level 4. Housing and accomodation is an essential service with the least likely to accelerate the spread of cov19.

    All this lobbying to open our sector should not have happened. It makes no scientific sense seeing that contact in the real estate sector is limited and all the preventative measures could have been easily adhered to.

  • Nomfundo
    Reply

    Thank you Ms Vuyiswa Mutshekwane for your efforts in giving the industry the voice of unity. Well done .

  • Maureen Palmer
    Reply

    Thank you NPPC and Chair for your intervention and efforts, the Deeds office re-opening is a start! Thank you for your willingness to continue to pursue the matter on our behalves, I think we should prepare ourselves for the new normal! Change, maybe drastic change, seems to be coming upon us, the good thing is that we will not be left each to his own, now we have a strong voice to support Property Practitioners and the Real Estate Industry of S.A!

  • Sue
    Reply

    Please approve the Property Practitioner’s Act so that estate agents can start working(for those waiting delays from the EAAB) as hunderds are waiting for FFC’s and cannot work. The Act will protect us from this and as no-one should be stopped from earning a living

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