Rebosa aims to grow as voice for property sector

The Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (Rebosa) is fighting for the interests of property professionals and is working to find pragmatic solutions to industry issues such as the urgent need to fast track transformation, says Rebosa chairman, Richard Gray.

“It is urgent for the country’s property sector to fast track transformation and become part of the solution rather than looking for problems,” said Gray, addressing members attending the organisation’s fifth annual general meeting at the Protea Hotel in Johannesburg on May 18.

He said the slow pace of transformation in the sector continues to be an area of concern for the board of Rebosa and added that the sector should focus on actively developing young people, women and people from previously disadvantaged communities to be able to participate meaningfully in the property industry.

“Economic transformation and inclusion is central to the growth, development and sustainability of our sector and country in general,” Gray said.

He said 2017 and 2018 have been uncertain and challenging times for the real estate industry in South Africa. Several pieces of new legislation are being contemplated or implemented, which will all affect the property sector.

The slow pace of transformation in the sector came under scrutiny last June with the publishing of the Property Practitioner’s Bill for public comment. The Property Sector Code, setting a black ownership target of 27% for property owning companies, came into effect on June 28 2017. Rebosa is currently holding meetings for members to have a clear understanding of their obligations to comply with the code.

“Rebosa took a clear stance against unfair discrimination with the launch of the Rebosa Equality Pledge in 2016. Members are encouraged to show their support by taking the pledge agreeing to a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to all forms of unfair discrimination. This drive continued in 2017 and we will continue to promote it,” Gray said.

The organisation was also instrumental in thwarting the plans of property portal Property24, owned by Media24, to take over its main rival and the country’s second largest property portal, Private Property. In the new deal, media company Caxton obtain a 50% shareholding, but Gray gave the assurance that the publisher will not be able to ‘willy-nilly’ raise advertising rates. Furthermore, agencies will be able to buy shares in Private Property at the same price as current shareholders.

Besides all the above interventions, the organisation has also been proactively engaging with the industry’s governing body, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), among others to eradicate the backlog in the issuing of fidelity fund certificates (FFCs), a mandatory requirement for estate agents to legally trade in property. According to Gray following Rebosa’s intervention most of the outstanding FFCs have been issued.

Together with the EAAB Rebosa developed a new online query management system to streamline queries and reduce backlogs. Rebosa in 2017 received 2 920 queries, all of which have since been resolved, Gray reported.

People acting as estate agents without complying with the educational requirements set by the EAAB or a valid FFC, as required by law, is a major issue for the industry. Gray encouraged members to report unregistered agents online with the EAAB and with Rebosa through its whistle blower initiative on www.rebosa.co.za.

Rebosa now has 26 multi-office members as well as 1 100 single office members. Collectively members employ 15 340 estate agents, which, Gray said, makes Rebosa unequivocally the most representative body in the real estate sector in South Africa.

Last, Gray thanked members for their support and emphasised the importance of building the membership to become a stronger voice for the industry. He referred to the power of the collective evident in the mining industry where the mining charter was effectively challenged.

“It is only through the power of numbers that our collective voice will be heard,” he concluded.