Why blacks are avoiding property sector

The South African Institute for Black Property Owners (SAIBPP) says that fewer than 10% of real estate investment trusts (Reits) are black originated, suggesting the listed property sector is barely transformed.

The sector has struggled to convince young black talent to pursue careers in commercial real estate, with the majority of black executives at listed property companies having first worked in financial services.

The SAIBPP said private companies could do more to attract young black talent to employment in commercial property and to make it easier for the majority of South Africans to access capital.

In terms of real estate investment trusts listed on the JSE, only Dipula Income Fund, Delta Property Fund and Rebosis Property Fund have black CEOs.

“Although there has been some success in, for instance, delivering social housing and issuing title deeds, the demand far outweighs the supply and support from the private sector is much needed,” said Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, CEO of SAIBPP, which will be hosting its property indaba in August.

The CEO of the Property Sector Charter Council (PSCC), Portia Tau-Sekati, agreed that while SA’s broad real estate sector — including estate agencies, commercial landlords and state-owned property — was being transformed, work needed to be done to convince black talent to pursue careers in property.

“We need to make property an attractive industry in which people can develop a career. Students, especially many black students, are not informed enough about real estate and the career possibilities connected to it. More property groups need to visit schools and universities. We need to get people thinking about working in the sector from a young age,” she said.

The PSCC launched the 2015-16 State of Transformation report for the property sector earlier this month, coinciding with the launch of the Amended Property Sector Code.