RE/Max calls for industry overhaul

Don Robertson

Don Robertson

RE/Max, the largest estate agency in South Africa, has called for the deregulation of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and for the industry to be allowed to regulate itself.

It claims the body is incompetent, fails to return telephone calls, often fails to issue fidelity certificates or does not issue them in time. Estate agents need a fidelity fund certificate to be able to claim commission on the sale of a property.

About 80000 estate agents were registered with the board last year.

But, Jeanne van Jaarsveldt, marketing and financial director of RE/Max, believes that with residential property price growth slowing, the number of agents will drop to about 35000 in time.

Van Jaarsveldt said the consumer and industry interests would be better served if the board was deregulated and the industry could regulate itself.

But not all estate agencies believe the board should be dissolved. Eskel Jawitz, chairman of Jawitz Properties, whose son Herschel was recently appointed vice-chairman of the board, said he doubted the board would be deregulated as there is nothing else to replace it by the Department of Trade and Industry.

He admitted, though, that the board was not functioning as it should, but the estate profession should be proactive and try and effect change from within.

He said the call to "unbundle" the board was focussing only on the negatives, but ignoring all the positives that have come about since the board came into operation such as the Code of Conduct and educational standards.

Ken Ralph, vice-president of the Institute of Estate Agents said the matter was "delicate and difficult". - Business Times