Property Education - The effect of the new educational qualifications on estate agency practitioners

The effect of the new educational qualifications on estate agency practitioners who held a valid fedelity fund certificate on 15 July 2008

Both principal and non-principal estate agency practitioners are once again reminded that, if they held a valid fidelity fund certificate issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board on 15 July 2008, they are required to complete the appropriate SAQA registered educational qualification for estate agents by no later than 31 December 2011 in order to retain a fidelity fund certificate for the 2012 calendar year. The qualification required by principal estate agents is the National Certificate: Real Estate (NQF Level 5) while non-principal estate agents must be certificated against the Further Education and Training Certificate: Real Estate (NQF Level 4).

Practitioners may obtain the required qualification either by enrolling for relevant training with an accredited training provider or, alternatively, by fully participating in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment process. The RPL process has been specifically designed to facilitate the recognition of existing knowledge and competences possessed by estate agency practitioners whether that knowledge was obtained formally, informally or non-formally. The purpose of the RPL programme is, indeed, to compare the proven previous learning and experience of estate agents against the learning outcomes and competencies required by the relevant estate agency qualification. It is essential, moreover, that candidates ensure that they utilise the services of a properly accredited RPL provider when seeking to participate in the RPL assessment process.

An Equivalency (Exemptions) Matrix has also been created by the EAAB, as a living document, to facilitate the grant to estate agency practitioners of due recognition for any relevant qualifications, and particulary qualifications from South African tertiary institutions, that they might previously have obtained. Such previous qualifications must, however, have been commercially and/ or legally orientated and should, preferably, have covered most of the aspects dealt with in the required real estate qualifications. Applicants for exemption will, similarly, be required to undergo a thorough assessment process to enable the RPL assessment centre to ascertain whether or not they, indeed, qualify for the exemption in question.

Estate agency practitioners are reminded that only EAAB accredited RPL assessment centres are entitled to award either a full equivalency exemption or relevant credits in respect of the qualifications in question. It is essential, therefore, that the candidates access the continuously updated list of EAAB accredited RPL centres appearing on the EAAB website. Applicants may, of course, apply for an equivalency exemption from an EAAB accredited RPL provider of their choice.

While it is desirable that the entire RPL process, from the time of enrolment to the achievement of the final result and the verification of those results by the Services SETA, should have been completed by 31 December 2011, it is to be underscored that the EAAB has resolved, in yet a further endeavour to assist estate agents, that provided estate agency practitioners have atively committed themselves to undergo the RPL assessment process with an accredited RPL assessment centre by 31 December 2011 they will be granted a further period of time until 31 December 2013 within which to be awarded full qualification.

This latitude is underpinned by the fact that the Education Regulations provide that candidates who have not been awarded the full qualification, despite having undergone the RPL process, are to be granted an additional period of two years within which to be re-assessed for the qualification in question. Candidates in question will be required to sumbit proof from an accredited RPL assessment centre that they have committed themselves to undergoing the RPL assessment process when applying for the issue of a 2012 fidelity fund certificate.

Estate agency practitioners are advised that in the absence of such proof it will not be possible for the EAAB to issue fidelity fund certificates to non-compliant applicants until such time as those persons have been duly certificated against the required qualifications.

Intern Estate Agents

Estate Agents, whether principals or non-principals, who already held a valid fidelity fund certificate, issued by the EAAB, on 15 July 2008 will be exempted from the requirement of having to undergo a twelve month internship period. It will be mandatory for new entrants to the estate agency profession who wish to register as either principal or non-principal agents for the very first time will to serve an initial twelve month internship period during which time they will be obliged to work as intern estate agents under the active supervision and control of a principal estate agent having at least three years practical experience.

It is to be emphasised that the EAAB has no discretion whatsoever to waive the internship requirement notwithstanding any academic or other professional qualifications that the new entrant may hold. Unless exempted from having to do so, new entrants will be required, during the duration of the internship period, to complete the NQF Level 4 qualification for non-principals. New entrants may,  subsequently, wish also to complete the NQF Level 5 qualification for principals and are encouraged to do so. New entrants, even if exempted from having to attain the relevant estate agency academic qualifications, will nevertheless still be required to compile a logbook underscoring their increasing competences over the internship year.

Most new entrants to the estate agency profession will need to register with, and study through, an accredited estate agency training provider to achieve the required qualifications. Those new entrants who believe that they have relevant previous work experience may also apply for the recognition of their prior learning assessment through an EAAB accredited Recognition of Prior Learning assessment centre.

The new entrant may be required to attend training and to be assessed against the real estate-specific content. New entrants may also be signed onto a Services SETA learnership. The funded learnership caters mainly for unemployed yourth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. These learners are paid a small monthly stipend to assist the employer in covering some of the training costs. Employers are advised to contact the Services SETA to obtain additional information on the submission of a learnership application.

The Professional Designation Examination (PDE)

The professional Designation Examination for both principal and non-principal estate agents will be set and administered by the EAAB and be based on the entire syllabus for the NQF Level 5 and 4 qualifications respectively. The syllabus for the NQF Level 4 qualification is contained in the work published by the EAAB under the title "Study Guide for the Professional Estate Agent: NQF Level 4". It is anticipated that the study material in respect of the syllabus for principal estate agents will be published shortly under the title "Advanced Study Guide for the Professional Estate Agent: NQF Level 5". Both sets of study material will be prescribed reading for candidates undertaking the principal and non-principal PDE respectively.

It is envisaged that the PDE for both principal and non-principal estate agents will contain a one-and-a-half-hour closed book knowledge component and a two-and-a-half-hour open-book practically based case-study. It is anticipated that three examinations will be conducted each year at venues throughout South Africa. There will be four PDE categories for both principals and non-principals namely, residential, commercial/industrial, community schemes and autioneering/business broking. A Certificate of Professional Recognition will be granted to successful PDE candidates.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The EAAB will soon be introducing a system of continuing professional development for all estate agents. The EAAB is aware that a significant number of estate agents already undergo training and/or attend relevant conferences to ensure that they remain fully acquainted with the latest estate agency trends and developments.

Estate agents generally realise that their continuing success inevitably depends on maintaining a sound knowledge base in a service-orientated profession. The only difference, therefore, between current practice and the institution of an ongoing, professional CPD programme is that estate agents will have to earn a set number of points over a given time period.

Full details of the proposed CPD programme will be published shortly. Estate agents may rest assured, however, that it is not the intention of the EAAB to make the CPD programme unduly onerous or expensive for estate agents. The EAAB is mindful of the fact that the CPD programme should be practical, relevant and achievable.

Courtesy: Agent – The Official Publication of the Estate Agency Affairs Board

“Redressing the Past, Building the Future and Guiding the Real Estate Business towards Professionalism”

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