Estate agent Xoliswa Tini. Picture: YANDISA MONAKALI/DAILY DISPATCH
Estate agent Xoliswa Tini. Picture: YANDISA MONAKALI/DAILY DISPATCH

The National Assembly unanimously passed the Property Practitioners Bill on December 4. The bill will now go to the National Council of Provinces to ostensibly deliver transformation of the real estate industry before the 2019 general elections.

If the creation of a transformation fund and the enforcement of the property charter were the solution, this might have worked.

The designations are changed from "estate agent" to "property practitioner" and from Estate Agency Affairs Board to the “authority”. The wide-encompassing definitions ensure that anyone remotely associated with property transactions will be affected by the bill, from mortgage originators (property finance) to property portals and property papers (advertising). This saddles the authority with significantly more responsibility, while it is already common cause that it breaks records in poor service delivery, not to mention ongoing IT challenges.

Unfortunately, property developers can still sell their properties to consumers without having to comply with the rules and regulations that all estate agents have to comply with, and their customers are denied the protection the Fidelity Fund renders.

More emphasis on ease of compliance, costs, efficiency of the authority, streamlining of processes and focus would have gone a long way to promote transformation. New entrants to the industry will still find it tough to get out of the starting blocks. The big national real estate groups with existing infrastructure and resources will benefit at the expense of new (black) entrants.

None of the political parties has any excuse for this mostly unfortunate event as they have been well advised in great detail about the technical deficiencies, shortcomings and errors in the bill.

However, some good has arisen: the intention to focus on transformation is laudable and will be supported. Conveyancers will be contravening the bill should payment of commission be made to unregistered “property practitioners”. This will go a long way towards combating the issue of illegal estate agents.

Jan le RouxCEO, Real Estate Business Owners NPC