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Dealing with estate agents under the new Property Practitioner’s Act

The new Property Practitioner’s Act (PAA) has brought various changes to the real estate industry and how sellers, buyers, tenants, and landlords will interact with estate agents going forward.

The new PPA and its regulations have replaced the old Estate Agency Affairs Act of 1976 and takes effect from the 1st of February 2022.

Property Practitioners and the Property Practitioner’s Regulatory Authority (PPRA)

In terms of the Act, estate agents are now known as property practitioners.

The Act also establishes a new body, the Property Practitioner’s Regulatory Authority (PPRA) which replaces the old Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) as the new regulating body for the industry.

A broad spectrum of operators involved in the property sector are now also brought under the regulation of the body which means that anyone who sells, or rents property will need to comply with the Act and its regulations.

Appointing a Property Practitioner to sell or rent your home

Choosing the right agent has never been more important. Working with a credible local area specialist who knows the market and can demonstrate a record of accomplishment remains the key to success according to Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group.

Having a bunch of “for sale” or “to let” signs outside your home or multiple agency listings on the property portals can result in confusion and anxiety for buyers and tenants, says Seeff. This may result in prospective buyers and tenants simply scrolling past those property listings.

For example, it might be complicated to decide which listing agency or practitioner to contact if there are multiple listings at the same price. It may therefore be easier to focus on other homes for sale or to rent in the area which appear to come with fewer complications.

Sellers and landlords should therefore guard against being distracted by the prospect of achieving an unrealistically high price and awarding a mandate on that basis or opting for an open mandate and multiple agencies.

Finding the best person to sell/rent your home

To find the best property practitioner, look around the neighbourhood to see who is visible in terms of “just sold” or “just let” signs or those who provide useful information on the market, sales and rentals.

Ask for recommendations from others who have sold and bought in the area. Choose the top three to interview, fewer if you can.

It remains vital that you verify that the practitioner is properly registered and qualified, says Seeff. They must be registered, currently still with the EAAB until the change-over to the new PPRA. An intern practitioner must disclose their status and work under supervision of a principal.

It is also advisable to check that they are in possession of a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate. This is an important check should the need to claim against the fund arise at a later stage.

The practitioner should provide a comprehensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) which showcases selling (or rental) prices and similar properties on the market as well as a proposed marketing plan. Ask the practitioner to motivate their recommendations.

Check the experience of the practitioner in terms of how long they have been selling in the area, how fast they sell their mandates compared to the market, and what price differential between the asking and selling prices they achieve compared to the market.

Selling and renting property have become complex in terms of compliance including disclosure, rental inspections, financing and the transfer process, hence it is important to check that the practitioner can offer a network of referrals and admin support system to ensure an efficient transfer and rental process.

Awarding a mandate to the practitioner

The Act brings about better protection for consumers including the need to disclose defects. Sellers and landlords should therefore note that a signed disclosure declaration will need to be attached to all sales and rental agreements including the mandate document.

Experience has shown that working with many agents will not achieve a better price or a faster sale. Rather, concludes Seeff, once you have chosen a properly qualified and experienced property practitioner, award a Sole Mandate to ensure commitment and focus on the selling of your property.