Continuous training crucial for professional industry service delivery

Continuous training crucial for professional industry service delivery

MAIN IMAGE: Andrew Schaefer, managing director Trafalgar

Training of estate agents and related professionals in the property industry is of the utmost importance and is a continuing process. The only wat to be able to continue delivering professional services on all the different levels of the industry, is to stay up to date with the latest legislation, trends, innovations and technology to assist in delivering this service.

“There are already more than 35,000 residential sectional title developments in SA and more than 8,600 residential estates with Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs),” notes Trafalgar MD Andrew Schaefer, “and community housing is growing much faster than any other residential property sector. This is evident from the fact that of the building plans passed in the first quarter of this year, 56% are for new sectional title flats and townhouses.

“This means that the homes and property investments of many thousands of South Africans are in the hands of the sectional title trustees and HOA directors who are responsible for managing budgets, levies and insurance matters as well as the daily security, cleaning and maintenance issues that arise in community schemes, and on top of that are expected to ensure a harmonious living environment through the effective application of management and conduct rules.”

However, most trustees and directors are property “amateurs” who often just get elected at an Annual General Meeting because they are the community-minded individuals who are willing to work – without compensation – for the benefit of their scheme, he says.

“They generally have very little previous exposure to any of the role expectations, applicable legal frameworks and practicalities of being a trustee or director – and often receive more criticism than encouragement in return for volunteering a great deal of their personal time.

“And the same can be said of most caretakers and building managers, who are responsible for the day-to-day operations as decided by the trustees or directors but are often also the first point of contact for residents and owners with queries and complaints.”

Schaefer says this is clearly a risky situation, which is why they have made it a priority to provide free e-learning opportunities for trustees, directors and caretakers to obtain the information and knowledge they need to fulfil their roles confidently, effectively and in compliance with all current legal and governance requirements.

Many owners of a unit in sectional title schemes, especially those schemes opened before 7 October 2016, remain confused as to which body corporate rules apply to their scheme…

“Our first course launched last year was Sectional Title for Trustees, and more than 1,100 trustees have already enrolled for this course, which we believe will do much to raise the level of professionalism in our sector while also addressing the legal requirement for trustees to educate themselves about what is required of them.

“We have since also developed an online training course for HOA directors and a basic course for sectional title owners, as well as the new course for sectional title building managers and caretakers, all of which can be accessed here.”

Regulation 14 of the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act stipulates that the executives of community schemes (trustees and directors) must take reasonable steps to educate themselves about their schemes, their affairs and activities and the legislation and governance documentation in terms of which the scheme operates.

But apart from this managerial training, the real estate industry has undergone a drastic transformation in the past decade. One of the main factors that has become a frontline accessory to provider optimal service, is technology which is now a very real role-player in the industry and lives of both property professionals and buyers or sellers. Increased competition has also caused estate agencies to ensure that their agents undergo regular training.

The arrival and prominence of property portals, online classifieds and many new entrants to the market has not only provided the consumer with a plethora of choices but ensured that leading estate agencies must continually evolve to stay abreast with service and client offerings.

According to the Harcourts Academy there are an abundance of key industry changes that agents need to understand and master. Technology has played a major role in this shift, with agencies offering client logins on their websites which indicate to clients the status of their property, its marketing and interest.

“Similarly, agents are having to enhance word of mouth referral strategies to include digital marketing platforms to reach new clients and stay in contact with current clients. South Africa’s economic fluctuations don’t do anybody any favours either and new legislative amendments occur often, forcing the agent to focus on keeping up to date with all the necessary information in order to assist the client in the best possible way.

“At Harcourts training is an important path for our agents and it occurs on a continual basis. We have the Harcourts Academy that has training schedules for agents of all skill levels, and this is done to perpetually equip agents with the highest level of insight into the industry. That is often forgotten when clients decide to sell their home privately. The agent’s knowledge, advice and understanding of markets remain a major contributor to the success of a property transaction.”

It is of utmost importance that real estate agencies aim to develop the skills needed to build a highly successful career in real estate. Continually attending a range of dynamic courses and a tailored system of learning. Ensure your agents attend a reputable and leading training organisation.

Even the best tools and individual brilliance can be worthless without the correct focus. Recruit the best people and train them to be even better. This helps your culture of high achievement and success.

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