Will new regulations simplify estate agent training?

Will new regulations simplify estate agent training?

MAIN IMAGE: Samuel Seeff, chairman of Seeff Property Group; Xoliswa Tini, CEO Xoliswa Tini Properties

One of the key questions for the real estate industry is whether the regulations to enact the Property Practitioners Act will simplify the onerous training requirements imposed on all prospective estate agents.

Principals see this every year. Eager young professionals join their agencies as intern agents but as time progress most of them drop out eventually. The pressure to complete the required NQF4 qualification while keeping up a logbook and simultaneously make sales to earn a living is simply too much to handle.

Real estate is a tough business and not everyone is suited for the rigours of this highly competitive sector, yet industry leaders have nonetheless flagged the current training system as one of the critical constraints to bringing more black estate agents on board.

Also read: Simplify estate agent qualifications for transformation

Barrier to transformation

The toughest challenge faced by any intern agent is the fact that while obtaining their NQF4 qualification they have to complete a 12-month internship and logbook which leads to unnecessary duplication of effort according to Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group. “There is no need for an internship and a logbook as well as the NQF4 qualification. It needs to be one or the other, not both,” he says.

In addition, most candidates can’t afford not to earn an income and so face further pressure to make sales. However, making sales happen is a time-consuming full-time job. Bear in mind that candidates only get paid once the property registers – a process which could take months. “It is no surprise that about without half of all the estate agents operating in the market are still sitting at “intern” status,” notes Seeff.

The high drop-out rate naturally also has a detrimental impact on bringing more agents from a previously disadvantaged background into the residential real estate sector. In March last year 40 949 Fidelity Fund certificates (FFCs) were issued, around 20 000 were issued to interns (EAAB March 2020), a third of which are estimated to be BEE. Most of them are expected to drop out. This has been identified by industry bodies like Rebosa and the National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC) as a major obstacle to effect faster transformation – an aspect that the industry has oft been criticised for. Consequently, both organisations made calls on government last year to consider simplifying the educational requirements for estate agents.

One of the suggestions Rebosa made was that candidates are allowed to complete their NQF4 and even the NQF5 while working elsewhere – thus allowing them to earn an income while obtaining the required educational qualifications. “Then, once qualified, they could enter the workplace and at least start working towards sales and earnings immediately. A period of practical training, working with a full status agent can still apply but must be for a short period,” explains Seeff, also a director of Rebosa.

Problem with ‘career interns’

Besides being a constraint to transformation, another problematic outcome of the current training system is interns who operate for years as full status agents. These so-called ‘career interns’ list properties without identifying themselves as intern agents on the property portals or on their business cards or e-mail signatures.

Xoliswa Tini, founder and CEO of Xoliswa Tini Properties, agrees that the current training framework is the biggest challenge facing the industry. However, she reckons there are not enough incentives in the system to compel interns to complete the NQF4 real estate qualification. “Anyone who wants a career can begin their NQF qualification, start a logbook and apply (and be granted) an FFC. Then a newcomer is ready to practice, earn an income and do the same work as full status agents,” says Tini. What is more, she adds, once these interns stop working as estate agents, their ‘registration’ with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) is not terminated and their details remain on the EAAB database.

She suggests that intern agents should be paid a smaller commission split than full status agents as a means of motivating them to obtain full status. She also feels that all intern agents and the deals they make should take place under the supervision of a full status agent as mentor and that the period of internship should be shortened from 1 year to six months.

Her suggestions are similar to some that Rebosa made last year towards the simplification of the educational training programme. Besides the mentioned allowance to complete the NQF4 and NQF5 qualifications before entering an internship, they also made the following suggestions:

  • That upon joining an estate agency, the candidate completes the practical training course within six months of being issued with an FFC – if unsuccessful the FFC be withdrawn.
  • During these six months all contracts and mandates must be co-signed by a qualified property practitioner.

The frustrations in the real estate industry with the onerous training programme have been around for years. It is hoped that some of suggested changes to simplify the educational requirements will be reflected in the hopefully soon to be published regulations to the Property Practitioners Act before it will replace the current Estate Agency Affairs Act.

Showing 5 comments
  • Leon

    Let me tackle this topic from the top.

    First of all suitable candidates will not necessarily find the training requirements onerous but I agree with Samuel that the internship/logbook plus NQF4 is unnecessary. And 6 months plus NQF4 is more than enough in my view for an internship.

    But, proper qualification is important because the industry is awash with incompetent, unethical, and uneducated people presenting themselves as professionals. Whether there is a qualification standard that can eliminate this is indeed debatable.

    The reason there are so many “unqualified” and “unqualifiable” agents is mainly because estate agencies need agents to do the “dirty” work i.e. get listings.

    And, the biggest culprits in fueling this drive to engage more people to become “agents” are the big franchises (no names, no pack drills).

    Secondly, we have a bloated and criminally inefficient governing body in the name of the EAAB.

    And they fool themselves if they think they can eliminate about 50% of interns because they did not qualify in time. Anybody who has bothered to look at the EAAB financials will tell you that this bloated organisation cannot survive without these annual renewal fees unless they double it for the remaining qualified agents.

    Thirdly, with all due respect, the content of the NQF4 curriculum is “pathetic” to say the least. A large chunk of it is completely irrelevant (costing for example is only really relevant to the manufacturing environment), outdated and poorly laid out. The same pieces of “facts” appear in many different parts of the notes.
    The NQF4 (and NQF5) material should be scrapped and redeveloped entirely. By a suitably qualified academic/person who can write proper study material (if you don’t mind).

    I want to tie this in with Rebosa’s suggestion that a person can do the studying without first having to register as an intern. This should become a prerequisite to entering the “profession”. It will also make life easier for principals as far as practical training is concerned because you can start with all NQF4 interns from the same baseline.

    So, in summary: pre-qualification as a prerequisite, shorter internship period and new curriculum/study material is the way to rescue this situation. And, the EAAB needs to be dismantled and reorganised into a functional organisation.

  • Kay Thompson

    I did the old CEA qualification in the 90’s whilst still working for the NBS. I personally feel that I learned more about the legal side and finances than I ever learned from doing the NQF4 and PDE. Just a lot of paper work for nothing!


    Pls keep me posted about developments ithis regard


    While a lot of what is said above is accurate, the one main point that is missing is the critical role the principal is supposed to play in intern development. I say ‘supposed to play’, because the common denominator amongst the interns I have facilitated through NQF4 over the past 5 years is an almost compete lack of support from their principal.
    Who is responsible for intern development if not the principal?
    Who is responsible for allowing ‘career interns’ to continue working in our industry? The principal.
    Can somebody point me in the right direction to where I can find any official job description or principal training in how to develop interns?
    I agree with Leon that in many cases, it is a numbers game. There appears to be little to no attempt to screen applicants. Most of the interns I engage with on NQF4-LU1, some of whom have been operating as an agent for quite some time, have no idea that we have a code of conduct and have never been on the EAAB website. They are clueless and it’s not their fault. It’s the principals!!
    We can complain about the EAAB.
    We can complain about the NQF4 material.
    We can complain about career interns.
    We can complain about the fact that there is ‘too much for an intern to do’.
    And we can talk about transformation. But fixing any or all of these without addressing the ‘elephant’, nothing much will change.
    Therefore, my question is ‘How do we fix the poor quality of principalship?
    As an aside, there is nothing clearly stated in the SAQA regulations that prevents anyone from enrolling for NQF4 before joining any agency or applying for an FFC.
    Rebosa, please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Lynette Pieterse

    I totally agree Jim, the quality of the principal makes a lot of difference in an intern’s training. Guidance is key, as well as the allocation of time to complete your logbook. They should also take interest in your further education – NQF4. There is really very little/no direction from the EAAB. Most interns don’t even know what is the path to completing your training. The logbook and NQF4 is very repetitive and many courses are not online and rely on couriers to get hard copies to offices. The training material is very outdated and does need to be updated. Real estate is a tough business, there is very little hand holding, the training is just the start of this tough business.

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