In this interview the attempts by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and the Association of Law Societies to root out bad practices by lawyers and estate agents are canvassed. Lawyers offering inducements like free advertising and overseas vacations to estate agents in order to secure conveyancing work come under attack as this apparently prejudices the property seller with higher conveyancing fees. While noting that lawyers don't voluntarily want to reduce their fees, Bill Rawson feels that even though South Africa is enjoying a property boom, estate agents have a case because marketing costs are very high for them, and in some respects they act as marketers for the legal fraternity.
He was unaware however, that some 1000 estate agents have been found guilty by the Estate Agents Board for bad practices. He could not be drawn on collusion between some estate agents and legal firms and challenged Moneyweb's assertion that it was happening on a large scale.
In a subsequent article Clive Ashpol, CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) said that the EAAB had teamed up with the Association of Law Societies to stamp out the "insidious problem" of inducements, etc, including some estate agents, of whom a number have been found, who had used pre-printed sale agreement forms with the name of the selected conveyancer pre-printed onto them.
Central to problems is the ease with which one can become an estate agent. According to Lynette Malan, the vice president of the EAAB, to become a candidate agent all one has to do is to complete the forms and pay a fee of R120. It is little wonder then that the number of agents has doubled from about 25 000 to 50 000 in the last two years.
Moneyweb interview and article on Moneyweb