By Don Robertson
Remax, the largest estate agency in South Africa, has called for the deregulation of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and for the industry to be allowed to regulate itself.
It claims that the regulating body is incompetent, fails to return telephone calls, often fails to issue fidelity certificates or does not issue them in time. (Estate agents must be in possession of a fidelity fund certificate to be able to claim commission on the sale of a property.)
It is estimated that 80000 estate agents were registered with the EAAB last year.
Jeanne van Jaarsveldt, marketing and financial director of Remax, believes that with residential property price growth slowing, the number of agents will decline to about 35000.
Van Jaarsveldt said that consumer and industry interests would be better served if the EAAB was deregulated and if the industry was allowed to regulate itself.
But not all the larger estate agencies believe that the EAAB should be dissolved.
Eskel Jawitz, the chairman of Jawitz Properties, whose son Herschel was recently appointed as vice-chairman of the EAAB, said he doubted that the board would be deregulated as there was nothing to replace it.
He conceded that the EAAB was not functioning as it should, but the estate profession should be proactive and try to effect change from within.
Jawitz said: “I think there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the way the EAAB is operated. For about two years there were no board appointments, and this was only resolved about two to three months ago.”
He added that the call to “unbundle” the board tended to focus only on the negatives while ignoring the positives, such as the code of conduct and the educational standards.
Tony Ketcher, owner and managing director of Seeff Properties Randburg, said the group had been working for 18 months with the EAAB to resolve some of the problems and he believed that the Institute of Estate Agents should try to work together with the board.
He said, however, that a credible body was needed and that he was not in favour of disbanding the body. The last thing one needed was disruption. ‘‘The institute must engage with the EAAB,” he said.
Ken Ralph, vice-president of the Institute of Estate Agents, said the whole matter was “delicate and difficult”. He said that the institute had had a meeting with Nomonde Mapetla, the EAAB’s chief executive, two weeks ago. She had made promises regarding the operations of the EAAB, particularly regarding the issue of fidelity fund certificates.