Bill offers wins and possible losses to players
PROPOSED changes in the draft Property Practitioners Bill about what Fidelity Fund insurance can be used for could increase risks to consumers wanting to buy and sell property.
This is the view of Bradley Hancock, KwaZulu-Natal regional broker sub-committee chairman of the SA Property Owners’ Association in KZN. The bill is scheduled to be promulgated before the end of the year.
Fidelity Fund insurance is currently used to settle claims against all estate agents, says Hancock. The bill also makes provision for these monies to be used to pay claims for misappropriation of trust monies by licensed agents.
The bill states that Fidelity Fund insurance money should also be channelled towards grants for black empowerment and education.
“These funds would have to be closely monitored to ensure they go to those who really want to become estate agents, not to anyone who happens to qualify for a Learnership 18.2 bursary in terms of current ServicesSETA criteria,” Hancock says. The ServicesSETA qualifying criteria require the recipient to be black, unemployed and under 33.
Hancock there are many eager would-be estate agents wanting to join the industry – and who would excel in it – but who do not fall within the current qualification requirements for a learnership bursary.
Despite his concerns, Hancock says the bill contains good provisions and was overdue in many respects. He agrees with advocate Debra Vial of the Estate Agents Affairs Board that given the size of the property market – its value is estimated at R7.9 trillion and it contributes some 8% to the country’s GDP – it is essential the entire property sector be transformed.
Vial says the bill, if enacted, will promote consumer education and empowerment and will professionalise the real estate industry.
Janet Alexander, chief executive of online real estate training company PropAcademy, says education of agents will still be regulated by the Estate Agents Affairs Board.
“Education includes all verified and non-verified Continued Professional Development (CPD).”
Alexander says the process of becoming a fully qualified estate agent could take between two and three years. The board requires any person entering the property industry – an intern – to produce a logbook which is a record of their first 12 months in the industry. This ensures the intern is able to perform functions required to professionally deal in property.
During this 12-month period the intern must also:
Study to obtain the South African Qualification Association (SAQA) NQF4 qualification. Thereafter a certificate of competency is issued by ServicesSETA.
Once this has been earned, the intern must write the Professional Designated Exam Level 4 (PDE4) set by the board.
Only then does the individual obtain Full Status Fidelity Fund Certification.
Alexander says the board “has an excellent database which keeps track of agents who may be non-compliant with the conditions required for their ongoing registration as estate agents”.
This could, for example, include not keeping abreast of their CPD requirements. As a result, non-compliant estate agents may find their applications for their next Fidelity Fund Certification blocked. Non-compliant selling or leasing agents and their agency are not entitled to receive commission from sellers or landords.
Other important aspects of the bill include broadening the definition of an estate agent to include all persons who deal in property for gain, including bond originators, bridging financers and valuators. The sheriff of the court and candidate attorneys, who may be involved in property transactions, are specifically excluded.
Other categories of people who are excluded from becoming estate agents have been broadened to include non-citizens or unlawful residents, people found guilty of contraventions of the Act in the preceding five years and those without a tax clearance certificate. The bill also makes provision for the appointment of an ombudsman who will have powers of mediation and adjudication over matters including inter-agent disputes. - SAPOA KZN
The process of studying to become a qualified estate agent could take between two and three years.