Raising the estate agency bar
House buyers and sellers can look forward to an increased level of professionalism from estate agents. Michelle Swart speaks to Nomande Mapetla, CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board, to find out more
Q AThe Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) was established in 1977 in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act 112 of 1976 with the mandate to regulate and control certain activities of estate agents in the public interest. The EAAB regulates the estate agency profession through ensuring that all persons carrying out the activities of an estate agent as a service to the public are registered with the EAAB. A Fidelity Fund Certificate, which is renewed each year, is issued as evidence of such registration and confirmation that such person is legally entitled to carry out the activities of an estate agent. South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act 58 of 1995 and the regulations framed under the act. These new qualifications will create certainty that the consumer — whether a buyer or seller — has assurance that the estate agent they are dealing with is competent and professional. The EAAB announced in July 2008 that the old education and training dispensation was to undergo a fundamental change to ensure compliance with the act, especially insofar as the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is concerned; professionalise the estate agency industry; and ensure transformation of the industry to reflect South African demographics. To meet these objectives a new entry qualification framework for estate agents that complies with the act and conforms to the practical requirements of outcomes based education was
Nomande Mapetla, CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board. devised, and is currently being implemented. These regulations were initially published in the Government Gazette for comment on August 13 2007, and national consultation with affected stakeholders also took place. Previously estate agents were only required to take a 40question test, there was no set syllabus and many facets of the home selling and buying process were not included. The revised curriculum, which now has a set syllabus, equips both new entrants into the estate agency industry and existing estate agents with a multidisciplinary and integrated practical and theoretical grounding on the basic principles and practices of estate agency in all its facets. The further education and training certificate: real estate is the prescribed training for nonprincipal estate agents. Referred to as the NQF level 4 qualification, it equates roughly to matriculation level. This qualification was established in accordance with the SAQA registered curriculum and consists of 150 credits. The national certificate: real estate is the course that is intended for principal estate agents. It is a NQF level 5 qualification that equates to matriculation plus one year post-matric study, and also consists of 150 credits. There are two ways in which a qualification can be earned at present: namely, the traditional way when a person attends structured training and is thereafter assessed for competence; or through the recognition of prior learning (RPL), when a person who already possesses the required skills and knowledge simply needs to be assessed for competence. Estate agents who have continuously held a full status fidelity fund certificate, whether as principal or nonprincipal estate agent, for a period five or more years from July 15 2008 — when the new regulations came into effect — will be exempted from having to undertake the professional designation exemption (PDE) for principal or non-principal estate agents. However, these estate agents may not have had any infraction of the act and its regulation and still have to prescribe to the academic requirements for the RPL. To date, about 3 000 of these PDEs have been awarded countrywide. The cut-off date is December next year. No extensions will be granted, but as long as estate agents have registered for RPL by December 2011 they have two years in which to complete the process. the NQF 4 qualification that was recognised internationally last year as the best study guide out of 90 jurisdictions for entry-level estate agents. The NQF 5 study material is currently being moderated and is expected to be complete by the end of November this year. It is envisaged that in the future under the new educational dispensation that an NQF level 6 for both principal and nonprincipal estate agents will be available. This will deal with differentiated fields of estate agents, such as residential, commercial/industrial, leisure, farms/agricultural, sectional-title management, business broking, estate-agency management, communal property ownership and any other spheres that may be identified. A specialised qualification for principal estate agents at NQF level 7 (honours degree) is also envisaged. These qualifications are currently awaiting SAQA approval. A continuing professional development (CPD) requirement will be implemented in accordance with current best practice requirements in most worldwide regulatory jurisdictions. These will be in the form of seminars, courses and reading material, among other things.