It has been half a year since the Property Practitioners Act came into effect, and the industry is still plagued by issues such as inadequate transformation, racism and lack of market access. These issues are worsened by the government’s inability to implement the Act, which essentially is meant to boost the businesses of small and black property practitioners.
These are the sentiments of the CEO of the National Property Practitioners’ Council (NPPC), Joseph Sakoneka. Vutivi News spoke to Sakoneka about progress, or the lack thereof, in the property practitioners’ sector since the legislation came into effect after it was signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 1 February. Sakoneka said that the sector was still characterised by exclusion, racism and staunch resistance to transformation.
According to Sakoneka, the lack of access to markets was driven by various factors such as poor marketing, limited financial resources and little trust in smaller, usually black practitioners. “This sector operates on the basis of trust, and the reason why access to markets for small players is a big problem is that they are not known, and people are not comfortable with entrusting big property sales to small players, which results in them squabbling over a smaller market,” he said.
“Marketing costs (are high) and using property portals like Property24 and Private Property very expensive. “Small practitioners need to pay a lot of money for marketing and even then, sales are not guaranteed.” Sakoneka also slammed the government for dragging its feet in implementing Section 20 of the Act. “Section 20 of the Act clearly states that all, not some, state organs must procure property services from transformed estate agents, and the government needs to start acting on this section,” he said.
“Moreover, the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA) needs to monitor whether this legislation is being adhered to.” The PPRA is the industry regulator. It was launched with the new legislation to replace the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Sakoneka also said that racism was a huge inhibitor of growth and transformation in the sector. “It is very difficult for a black-owned property company to obtain a mandate (to sell property on behalf of a client) from white people or from those living in white-dominated suburbs,” he said.
“These practitioners only get mandates from black people at the lower end of the market, and this does not afford them the opportunity to participate in the big league. Racism is also rife and is happening a lot in this sector.“ A lot of these cases are not reported, and some of the victims do not speak out and as a result, these instances do not receive attention. “As the NPPC, we condemn racism in all forms and we strongly encourage our members to report any racism experienced in the sector.”
Sakoneka said these issues could be exacerbated by black people also failing to put their trust in black-owned property practitioners. “We need to understand that there is a need for black people to solve black people’s problems, and it starts with black people, especially the rich ones, trusting these black firms with large property sales so that they too can grow,” he said. “Black people do not trust black brands, and we should create awareness to assuring black people that it’s okay to buy black.”