Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Estate Agency Affairs Board riddle without answers

Estate Agency Affairs Board riddle without answers

How do you know if an estate agency is legally registered to operate? Well you can't rely on the statutory body - the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) - to tell you.

The Star searched the registrations of 116 estate agencies on the board's registration lists and found only half were recorded as properly registered. Of those 116, a total of 30 were not listed under their trading name and another 34 were listed but had their registrations marked as "invalid".

The board has been unable to explain this.

Agencies contacted by The Star expressed surprise at such an apparently widespread problem. Several agencies that were either not listed on the board's registration lists or were listed as having "invalid" registrations insisted they were legally registered and had the board-issued certificates to prove it.

"The website itself is not the greatest tool for finding out what's going on," said a manager at a Joburg estate agency.

He said he'd told the board that his agency's registration was not correctly reflected on the board's website list. "All our offices are valid," he insisted.

A director at another agency expressed surprise at being told his agency's registration was listed as invalid, multiple times, on the website.

"I've got all my fidelity certificates in front of me right now."

Last week The Star asked the board if the registration lists on its website were up to date.

"It's 100 percent updated," said board spokeswoman Portia Mofikoe.

If the board's website register is wrong, it means that potential clients of the agencies are unable to check the validity of an agency's registration without going to that agency's office and asking to see the registration certificate.

The board responded to only some of The Star's queries about registrations, following written queries sent to the board on Thursday.

Mofikoe confirmed that both agents and agencies were legally obliged to register with the board and obtain Fidelity Fund certificates.

"No estate agent is allowed to trade until a valid Fidelity Fund certificate has been issued," she said.

"If an estate agent or an estate agency is not registered with the EAAB, they do not have valid Fidelity Fund certificates."

She said it was a statutory offence to trade without such a certificate, which could result in a fine of R25 000.

"No estate agent is entitled to a commission unless, at the time of the performance of the transaction, a Fidelity Fund certificate was issued to him or her," she noted.

The Star found that some agencies had numerous listings for variations of their names, and some had dozens of listings for the same name all marked as "invalid".

The board could not explain this.

The board said it recorded both the registered name of an agency and the trading name, but The Star found these were not linked on the website.

The board recently went to court to stop Wendy Machanik Properties from trading without a Fidelity Fund certificate.

The Star

No comments:

Post a Comment