EAAB should do more for transformation in industry

EAAB should do more for transformation in industry

MAIN IMAGE: Veena Paul, National coordinator of SAIBPP; Ronel Bornman, national HRD manager, Seeff Property Group

Danie Keet

Mashilo Pitjeng , Chairperson of SAIBPP Policy and Advocacy Committee, thinks the EAAB is doing enough to advance transformation in the real estate industry.

“The 1 Learner – One Agency programme is one such initiative that’s assists in this.  It is one of the many ways the industry can approach transformation, but it is by far not the only way that transformation can be achieved. However, the industry must explore other ways and keep trying creative methods that could add or improve on the current programme.

“The purpose of transformation is not to achieve fast results or to achieve quick gains. The reasons for transformation are to change the structural conditions in the sector and open opportunities for those who previous did not have exposure to such, as result the question of speed of results does not arise, if such results are achieved at the expense of fundamental changes to the way the estate agency industry operates now.

“Aspects such as access to trading opportunities, exclusivity arrangements in the value chain, that includes persistent existence of “No go areas”, and inefficient and ineffective EAAB licensing processes are some of the most important challenges in the transformation process of the estate agency profession,” he said.

Asked if there were specific actions that need to be taken to promote transformation, he said:” The estate agencies are to defocus from the narrow approach that over-prioritizes education and training instead of including making real trading opportunities available to the candidates.

“Commission sharing models could be adapted to accommodate participation of candidate agents or some form of a group scheme that provide material support to candidates (and some form of direct participation in transactions),” he concluded.

When asked whether the EAAB is actively pursuing its goals of transformation with the industry and if so in what manner, Ronel Bornman, national HRD manager for the Seeff property group, said that while the preamble to the new Property Practitioner’s Act focuses on transformation in the industry, the reality is unfortunately that the EAAB has not done enough.

“There are no active programmes to successfully drive transformation. Where the EAAB has introduced initiatives, these have not been successfully implemented and largely mismatched to the industry requirements and what it takes to succeed in the real estate profession.

“The process has not been fast enough or successful. It should be reiterated that the industry is fully committed to transformation. The challenge is that it is difficult to retain BEE candidates. Talented candidates are often not prepared to enter the industry on risk, or they are snapped up quite in formal employment where they can earn a good fixed monthly salary, compared to real estate where your earnings are directly linked to success.

“That said, we are seeing more and more BEE candidates come into the profession, but the internship and certification is a major barrier to transformation” she said.

Bornman stated that the main barrier and challenges in the transformation process of the estate agency profession is the internship and certification process. It is onerous, unnecessary and should be scrapped.

“We should revert to the self-study, preparation and professional exam process which was in place when the industry was self-regulated. There should be four exams annually to give candidates adequate opportunity to pass, as well as those who might fail at first. Once candidates are certified they can start working and gain experience. Further elements of training can be undertaken by the EAAB via proper training centres.

“The One Learner – One Estate Agency” youth programme was a Seeff initiative and recommendation that government should implement this via the Services SETA to provide a stipend. While a great idea and welcomed by the industry, it was poorly implemented and has not been successful. Candidates selected by the EAAB and placed in the industry as part of this programme were generally school leavers and were unsuited to the industry and to sustain themselves in a career in real estate.

“For such a programme to succeed, the EAAB needs to recruit degreed candidates (from universities and TVET Colleges) who will succeed and stay in the industry. The EAAB should enable them to pass the exam and then allocate them to the agencies where they could then ultimately end up either in sales or as an assistant to a senior agent, or they may be more suited to administration. They should be provided with a 6–12-month stipend to enable them to become financially sustainable,” she emphasised the importance of training.

Bornman said the main barrier to training opportunities for young black entrees into the industry is the certification process which includes the 12-month internship and logbook which is onerous and unnecessary.

“The industry operates on a free-market system and is open to anyone who wishes to enter. The challenge is that it requires risk as you only earn on success. The industry is open to everybody, but new entrants must spend too much time on the onerous logbook and certification requirements. The preparation and professional exam will provide them with a basic understanding of the profession and law and once they pass the exam, they are able to practice. The EAAB should obtain funding from government for ongoing training programmes through proper training centres.

“Financial sustainability is often what keeps BEE candidates out of the profession, or why they end up leaving. A 6-12-month stipend is vital to assist candidates to become self-sustaining financially.

“Overall, we are seeing that BEE agents are increasing in the industry, albeit too slowly. The EAAB needs to build on this by making it easier to qualify and assist candidates to get certified. Once in the industry, BEE candidates will emerge as entrepreneurs and will in turn employ the best people in the business. The EAAB should also introduce a programme to encourage more entrepreneurs and business ownership. It is very difficult to become a principal, practice and succeed. You need to gain experience and become successful and then decide whether you want to become an entrepreneur and grow from there.

“Part of the EEAB training, should be tailor-made entrepreneurial courses to train aspiring principals and business owners. It will take at least 5-10 years to transform and have greater representation. It will take longer for more black estate agency businesses to emerge.

“But, if the EAAB could aim to introduce say 2000 new candidates annually for five years, we could see up to a quarter of the industry transformed over the next five-year period and it can grow exponentially from there,” Bornman concluded.

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