Those seeking to transform estate agency sector face challenges

Those seeking to transform the estate agency sector face challenges, says outgoing IEASA regional chairman

Anton Du Plessis, CEO of Vineyard Estates the outgoing chairman of the Western Cape Institute of Estate Agents Peninsula Committee, said recently that he and his fellow committee members had accepted wholeheartedly the government’s instruction to transform the estate agency sector.  The alternatives, he said, is to face “prescriptive action”.

“On the face of it, this should be no problem: the industry needs keen, new agents and there are many previously disadvantaged people wanting to join us.  In reality, however, there are big obstacles to be overcome.”

The first of these, he said, is that in almost all agencies, the rookie agent has to fund himself until such time as his commissions start coming through.

In practice, said Du Plessis, this means that the new agent will be without a salary for six months or longer because, even when he has sold a home, he will have to wait three months for the transfer to be finalised and his commission to be paid.

“Regrettably,” said Du Plessis, “there are very few aspirant agents who can manage this – especially as they also have to have their own motor cars, cell phones and laptops.”

A further difficulty facing those trying to bring about transformation, said Du Plessis, is that most well educated, articulate PD candidates can find far safer and less demanding jobs in the corporate world - where they will be paid from day one.

If and when a PD agent accepts the challenges and signs on for the now-compulsory one year on-the-job training, he or she, said Du Plessis, will have to face the fact that in the middle class housing market, where they will be working most of the time, they will lack the contacts that their white counterparts, often born and brought up in the area they serve, will automatically have.

The challenge to transform, added Du Plessis he, has also been made more difficult by the recession. 

“Previously,” he said, “with sales 40 to 50% higher than they are at present, it was possible for new or less competent agents to make a marginal living doing one or two sales per annum.  Nowadays a surviving hard core of agents will almost certainly snap up the sales themselves.”

Asked if the PD agent could not make a good living in such areas as a Khayelitsha or Gugulethu, Du Plessis said that here they will be up against many informal, unregistered agents who, not having Fidelity Fund certificates, are in fact operating illegally –often also on cutthroat commissions.

Furthermore, extracting payments in the townships can be very difficult, many sellers believing that R200 or R300 should be ample reward.

A factor very much in favour of the PD rookie agent, said Du Plessis, is that agencies employing them can get significant government training funding via SSETA.  This, he said, should very definitely encourage agencies to take on PD trainees.

“I do want to encourage PD aspirant agents not to give up hope,” said Du Plessis. " If one perseveres in this industry, it can be a rewarding and challenging career.”

For further information contact Anton du Plessis on 021 674 4444 or email

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