400 new black estate agents for SA

Bank, Estate Agency Affairs Board, French govt join the cause of industry's racial transformation

As part of the transformation drive in the South African property sector, Absa Bank, in collaboration with the National Housing Finance Corporation, The Estate Agency Affairs Board and the French Development Agency, is overseeing the training of 400 black real estate agents.

Two-hundred of these trainees have already completed their theoretical training in accordance with the new educational dispensation for estate agents, and will graduate today.

"The project matches Absa's transformational agenda in that it directly empowers and equips black South Africans, while also adding value to the communities in which we operate," says Luthando Vutula, Managing Executive of Absa Home Loans.

"As the leading mortgage financier in South Africa, we continue to lead by example," Vutula added.

In tackling the shortage of trained estate agents in townships and other previously disadvantaged areas, the training project is boosting the cohort of agents who can speak to prospective home buyers and sellers in their own language.

Well-trained agents, who can communicate effectively with emerging property owners about home financing, play a key role in educating South Africans about home financing and property ownership. This enhanced awareness will help extend mortgage providers' reach into previously disadvantaged - and still under-borrowed - communities. Ultimately, this stimulates activity in a still relatively under-traded market segment.

"All in all, more informed decisions will underpin the development of the property market and will help breathe life into property values once the cycle turns," says Vutula.

Vutula expects meaningful recovery in the property market by the first half of 2010, a trend which is being signalled by the Absa House Price index. Although overall house price movements are still negative, the declines are slowing markedly.

Notably, the affordable segment of the housing market (houses of between 40 and 80 square metres, with values up to R430 000) continues to clock up positive house price growth, albeit far more muted than the pace reported early last year. Year-on-year house price growth in the affordable segment has plummeted from nearly 15% in the first quarter of 2008, to just under 2% in the second quarter of 2009.

"Contrary to general perception the Affordable Housing portfolio is performing well relative to the other segments within the Absa Home Loans stable. In order to tap into the township market Absa Home Loans has designed a secondary market strategy wherein we address specific issues to unlock the market potential such as valuation methology & specific secondary market proposition thereby allowing home owners to access home loan finance to improve and renovate their homes.

Price changes in this market segment appear to be stabilising, thanks to a succession of interest rate cuts and a measure of relaxation in banks' lending criteria in the third quarter of this year. The trend has helped preserve the positive equity - the excess of property values over mortgage values - in the affordable market segment.

In line with the goals of the Property Charter, the property sector and the estate agency industry face the challenge of drawing as many trained black estate agents into a recovering property market - and especially into the affordable housing market - as possible.

"This project does just that," says Vutula. "It instils practical skills and entrepreneurial thinking into a group of people who are excited about industry prospects. It also bolsters Absa's goal of seeing more South Africans - especially those from previously disadvantaged communities - owning their own homes and building their personal wealth."

The training project is focused initially in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape and has been designed to cater to the educatio

Article from: www.realestateweb.co.za