Estate agents must embrace ongoing training and development
With the EAAB (Estate Agency Affairs Board) clamping down on agents trading in the real estate industry who have not renewed or ever applied for their Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFC), as well as disqualifying agents for noncompliance with their Continuing Professional Development, it is now more important than ever to insist on continuous training as an essential part of operating within this industry.
This is the word from Cornel Haskins, sales manager at property company SAProperty.com, who notes that the new Property Practitioners Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 4 December 2018 and has now been sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence, and this will change a) the governing body for the real estate industry and b) the way this industry is run - what is important is continued work at upskilling all agents.
There is too high a rate of interns dropping out of the sector because of the lack of training and mentoring, as they often find it daunting to complete either the NQF4 requirements or the log book that the EAAB requires, she says. "Having a good training provider and a company that mentors and supports as well as assists agents with their log books and NQF4, in order to complete and write the PDE exam, is vital."
Haskins says many do not realise that agencies can partner up with attorneys, who could assist with some of the contractual training or guidance on completing the log book. "In this way, agents get the chance to ask all of their relevant questions, learn of current and changing issues, and can also become re-inspired to be a specialist in their field."
To become an estate agent there are three major steps:
- Completing a log book;
- Completing the NQF4 training; and
- Writing the Professional Designation Exam.
Keeping agents' skills up to date and increasing interns' knowledge of the industry is a necessity as the real estate sector is forever changing," says Haskins. "Continuous training helps agents stay motivated and it provides better understanding of the happenings in the sector, as well creating an urge to provide a better service to the clients."
Rogue agents have given the industry a bad reputation and it is up to the EAAB and estate agencies to employ and empower their agents to be better equipped in order to give the best service possible, she says.
How buyers and sellers can protect themselves
The public can, however, protect themselves and only use registered, qualified agents when buying or selling property, and the first thing to check is whether the agent they intend dealing with has a valid FFC. All agents should have a Privyseal signature on their emails, websites or social media, which shows a real time validation of their FFC and status (whether principal, full agent, or intern) with the EAAB.
In addition, professional and qualified agents will be able provide references from previous clients if asked as well as a sales track record, to ascertain whether they have been successfully dealing in property and for how long. It is also advisable to check whether the agent specialises in a specific type of property and how long he or she has worked in this industry.
"Buying or selling a home demands a lot of trust in the person dealing with the transaction, as it is possibly the largest asset anyone will ever own," says Haskins. "Ensure that you vet the agent you deal with properly and not just go to someone you know or a friend of a friend."