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How to become an estate agent

16 Feb 2012

For many people, a career in real estate is not about making a quick buck and getting out, but a lifelong commitment and passion for the sector.

Kevin Mullins, chief executive officer of SA Real Estate Agency, says the new training regulations promulgated in July 2008 provide a career path for new entrants who wish to embark on a professional career in estate agency in South Africa.

In 2008 there were around 90 000 estate agents registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), according to Kevin Mullins, chief executive officer of SA Real Estate Academy.

Mullins says up to this time there were few barriers to entry in the industry and it was a popular choice for those wishing to cash in on the property boom of the years 2004 to 2007.

He says in the middle of 2008 the EAAB introduced more stringent requirements for entry and the real estate economy started to wobble following the implosion in the US mortgage market.

In South Africa, by 2011 more than two thirds of the estate agents registered in 2008 had left the industry due to the economic recession and legislative requirements to re-qualify on a professional level.

He says there are now about 28 000 registered estate agents. Despite the dwindling number of estate agents in the industry, a number of people still want a career in real estate.

This attrition has opened the way for new entrants to the industry and the real estate sector is potentially able to generate employment for those brave individuals who have an appetite for the education and training requirements.

With an upswing in the market forecast for late 2012, the critical mass of estate agents in South Africa is estimated to be around 40 000 by 2013.

This means that the potential for job creation is in the region of 12 000 new estate agent positions.

Mullins says this is an industry imperative to manage transformation in such a way that it encourages young black people to make a career in real estate.

For transformation to work in this sector, he says it is important to provide aspirant estate agents with the correct training opportunities so they can earn a decent living in an industry that is notoriously fickle.

The new training regulations promulgated in July 2008 provide a career path for new entrants who wish to embark on a professional career in estate agency in South Africa.

We spoke to Mullins about becoming an estate agent in South Africa in light of the new regulations.

A new entrant to the industry is required to achieve the qualification FETC: Real Estate (NQF level 4), to complete a 12-month internship under the mentorship of an experienced estate agent and to write and pass a professional designate exam (PDE) at the end of the internship.

I would like to begin a career in real estate as an estate agent, what are the basic requirements?

A new entrant to the industry is required to achieve the qualification FETC: Real Estate (NQF level 4), to complete a 12-month internship under the mentorship of an experienced estate agent and to write and pass a professional designate exam (PDE) at the end of the internship.

This aligns the professional education and training requirements of the real estate profession with those of the legal and accounting professions.

If the aspirant estate agent holds a degree or national diploma in specific fields he/she could possibly be exempt from having to achieve the FETC: Real Estate.

Will I have to leave my full-time job to do a course and how long is the course?

It is ideal for the aspirant estate agent to join an estate agency firm as a full-time intern.

The course can be done concurrently with the internship so the intern can learn while he/she earns.

Course duration can be anything from six months to a year, depending on the delivery model that the training provider offers.

Full-time, part-time and distance-learning options are available, so it may be possible for an aspirant agent to continue in another job while studying towards the FETC: Real Estate.

Can you recommend schools across the country offering estate agents courses and what costs can one expect to pay?

It is important for the aspirant estate agent to check the credentials of the training provider before committing to the process and paying any fees.

Companies must be accredited to offer the FETC: Real Estate by Services Seta and the EAAB, as well as being registered as a private FET college by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The South African Real Estate Academy is fully accredited and registered and can be reached at 031 502 2518 or visit the website at www.sarea.co.za .

Course fees range from R7 000 to R15 000 depending on delivery model.

I have been reading that the property market is currently not all good, would you recommend new entrants into the industry?

The property market is not all bad news. There is certainly money to be made by a motivated individual.

Among our clients, one company did their best three months ever in the last quarter of 2011, another had a record month in January 2012, and an intern partnership have sold nine properties since joining the industry in September 2011.

There will always be opportunities in the real estate market for those willing to work hard.

What are the top qualities/characteristics required of an estate agent?

Good communication skills, honesty, integrity, assertiveness, good organisational skills and the ability to learn and put the learning into practice.

An estate agent needs to have good communication skills, honesty, integrity, assertiveness, good organisational skills and the ability to learn and put the learning into practice.

What would you say are two challenges facing new estate agents and old alike in South Africa?

The stigma of the estate agency created by the unprofessional estate agent that was allowed to enter and remain in the industry prior to 2008 is difficult to overcome.

This is clearly seen in the negative comments made by readers of Property24.

However, the new professional era will hopefully eradicate this stigma over time.

The other major challenge is the cyclical nature of the industry.

It s often either boom or bust and new estate agents must learn to make hay while the sun shines and then make provision for the leaner times.

The real estate industry has the potential to create wealth (think Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki) and a good estate agent will always benefit from this potential.

Working solely for commission can be nerve-wracking but the rewards can be great and a professional estate agent will always make a living from the industry.

Readers may submit questions to Property24 s Guest Expert panel and/or comment below. We may not be able to answer all questions received, but all will be considered .

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