No quick fix for EAAB - agents

25 Oct 2012

Following the two-day Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) Industry Summit recently held in Midrand, Johannesburg, Seeff chairman Samuel Seeff has lauded the move by the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale and the EAAB Administrator, Advocate Taswell Papier to engage with the industry.

The first vital and overarching question to be resolved, he says, is the mandate of the EAAB. Is it a regulator or a certifier? Is it the body’s task to look after its members, the public or both?

“This is a leap forward and we welcome the steps taken by the ministry to open the floor and debate the significant issues that face the industry in a move towards finding workable and sustainable solutions.”

Seeff says they welcome both the willingness to include the industry and the manner of engagement, but fear that there are no quick fixes in sight.

While the discussions over the two days were fruitful, they were broad and a few solutions came out of the sessions. The issues are clearly complex, he says.

The summit only touched the tip of the iceberg. What is needed now, is to unpack the issues.

"To get the right people around smaller workshop tables, industry stakeholders and experienced real estate agents who can provide input from a real, on-the-ground operational level," he explains.

The first vital and overarching question to be resolved, he says, is the mandate of the EAAB. Is it a regulator or a certifier? Is it the body’s task to look after its members, the public or both?

Issues such as the enforcement of legislation, audits, compliance, educational prerequisites and continued professional development to ensure that agents are up to date with developments and are able to deliver a professional service are just some of what needs to be resolved, says Seeff.

A key point discussed during the summit was that of transformation.

Clearly, he says little has been achieved in this regard by the industry, but there are broader issues to debate and resolve, says Seeff.

While transformation may in theory appear to be achievable, the structure of the industry is such that since remuneration is commission based, agents find it difficult to sustain themselves during tough trading conditions, as has been the case over the past few years.

Seeff Randburg managing director, Tony Ketcher, who also attended the summit says there is a short-term opportunity to introduce interns into the industry.

This, however, requires urgent engagement between the Services SETA and the real estate industry about bursaries.

He believes that some element of financial support will encourage more entry into the industry. Again, the question remains as to who negotiates on these with the SETA?

Seeff says that the real estate operating environment has become more complex in the last few years.

Where only one or two Acts governed the industry in the past, there are now around 12 or more Acts that estate agents need to know and comply with.

“As an industry, we need a strong and credible professional body with a clear mandate that commands respect from the industry and public and we see this as a two to three year process rather than a quick fix solution,” adds Seeff.

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