Check Your Agent’s CV First

The jump in official estate agent numbers - from 57 000 in May this year to more than 64 000 in August - effectively means that there are more than 20 000 under-qualified operators in the industry.

Responding to recently released figures by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), which puts the number of registered estate agents in South Africa at a record high of 64 159, Realty 1 Elk Chief Executive Mike Bester said historical research showed that, at any given time, 30% of its practitioners were newcomers to the industry.

This, he said, currently translated to about 20 000 (or one in three) estate agents being under-qualified to ply their trade, a warning to consumers to be more careful than ever in their property dealings.

"It's unlikely that anyone coming into the industry in the past few months has received sufficient training to be able to offer a professional service."

"Essentially, all that's legally required for someone to start working as an estate agent is to be registered with the EAAB and in possession of a Fidelity Fund certificate.

"They don't have to write and pass an exam to achieve full estate agent status if they've completed a practical training period of one year, theoretically under the guidance of a qualified agent."

Like any industry, he said, the real estate sector comprised both qualified members who operated from platforms of professionalism, experience and integrity, and those who brought the industry into disrepute through lack of experience or bad practice.

However, he added, the lack of control regarding entrants to the real estate industry made it a haven for opportunistic and desperate people out to make quick buck.

It was, therefore, vital for consumers to safeguard themselves by screening prospective agents as carefully as they would any property they were intending to buy, said Bester. This was best done by checking that the agent had a valid Fidelity Fund certificate, bearing in mind that these certificates were only valid for one year.

"Untrained agents don't usually know how to put a comprehensive and successful marketing plan in place for their sellers, nor do they have the experience or skills to be able to deal with problems such as deals on the verge of collapse and double commission claims." (Business Report)

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