Unregistered estate agents 'block transformation'
Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela says unregistered estate agents are one of the biggest factors blocking transformation in the industry, saying there are about 6 000 in the province.
Madikizela was speaking at a dialogue between the department and the estate agency industry, which was held to encourage unregistered estate agents to become compliant with the Estate Agencies Affairs Act.
According to the act, estate agents have to register and be issued with a fidelity fund certificate in order to trade. The certificates are issued by the Estate Agencies Affairs Board (EAAB) in order to protect consumers and ensure that estate agents comply. It emerged that thousands of estate agents operate without certificates which they have to apply for annually with the board.
Representatives from the EAAB, the Human Settlements Department, the Black Conveyancers Association, as well as established estate agents and unregistered agents attended the meeting.
Madikizela said: 'The main issue for the department is to professionalise the sector but most importantly we need to transform it. We've identified a number of elements which will result in transformation in the sector by bringing more previously disadvantaged estate agents into the sector. Today is about encouraging those unregistered estate agents to become registered. There are about 6 000 unregistered estate agents in the province.'
'People must understand that if we have to truly transform this sector, professionalism goes hand in hand.
'Part of the problem is that sometimes people see transformation as a means to cut corners. It doesn't work like that. That's one of the reasons transformation has taken so long. People simply thought it was a get-rich-quick scheme and they can just cut corners to be part of it.'
He said the industry was 88 percent white 'which is a clear indication that something drastic needs to be done'.
'This is a very wealthy industry. From 2009 we experienced the economic downturn but it's still a wealthy industry. It's a R4.9-trillion industry which shows that the cake is big enough,' Madikizela said.
One estate agent asked Madikizela what his department was doing to assist black agents because they never knew about the housing projects in their areas and that most of the work was given to white agents. Madikizela said: 'If you are an estate agent and you don't know what is happening in your space then you should blame yourself not the department.'
Estate agents were warned in 2012 to register and have been given more leniency with the deadline extended to June next year.
Bryan Chaplog, chief executive of the EAAB, said the board would only issue certificates to qualified estate agents and to companies whose financial records were up to date.
Unregistered agents can be fined up to R 5 000 or face imprisonment of up to five years if they operate without a fidelity fund certificate.
Chaplog also warned unregistered estate agents that buyers or sellers or even their own companies could withhold or refuse to pay them commission for their sales if they were not registered.
Bryan Webster, an unregistered estate agent, said he had been trying to register and obtain his fidelity fund certificate since 2012.
'The board needs to be efficient and transparent about why they don't grant estate agents their certificates. I met all the requirements and submitted all the documents but heard nothing about my application and the principal I was working for took all my commission,' Webster said.
He then joined a new company and tried to register again but his registration application was declined as the board had an issue with the audits submitted by the principal Webster was working under.
Chaplog said he would investigate. Other agents complained that they sent queries to the board months ago about how to register and had not had any response. Chaplog planned to start a system which tracked emails.