REBOSA AGM HELD ON 30 JUNE 2015 AT CITY LODGE, O.R. TAMBO INTERNATIONAL, JOHANNESBURG ___________________________________________________________________________
It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to this second annual general meeting of the Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) – what a fantastic turnout – thank you for being here, your presence here is most valued and appreciated.
It is now my pleasure to deliver the Chairman’s report for REBOSA for the past twelve months.
I’m delighted to report that the organisation has achieved significant progress and success over the past 12 months on a number of fronts. As a consequence of this progress, which I hope to give you a sense of during the course of this report, REBOSA is now without doubt a significant, serious, credible and noteworthy organisation representative of a large number of Real Estate business owners.
Last year more or less at this time of the year, I began this report by detailing the history of the organisation since its inception in May 2011, culminating in the first AGM held in June last year and the appointment of Jan Le Roux as full time CEO and the formal adoption of an agreed MOI.
There were a number of key priorities identified at last year’s AGM and at subsequent board meetings and I’m pleased to report that substantial progress has been made on all fronts:
Firstly, in respect of membership, a priority included refocusing energy and time to increase membership support. I’m delighted to be able to report that in the period under review membership continued on its upward growth trajectory. We can now credibly claim that we represent at least a third of the total industry’s business owners and their agents. At last count REBOSA had 374 agencies representing 12,264 agents, up from 118 agencies representing 7,914 agents this time last year.
This is obviously pleasing from a number of points of view but particularly so from the point of view that it was a founding principle that REBOSA would be an organisation for big and small companies alike, and aim to be fully representative of all real estate business owners in South Africa. Furthermore, this increased membership was also the result of a number of new corporate memberships which came on board during the last financial year, Just Property Group, PLN to name but two.
A second priority is, as always for any organisation, the question of finance and here I’m also happy to be able to report that REBOSA is on a solid and sound financial footing with the current costs and projected costs for the year ahead well matched by income. Membership fees continue to be the organisation’s only material source of income so I urge you to continue your support and to continue to assist Jan in his quest to bringing more members on board. I’m pleased to report that as a consequence of good financial planning and increased membership, the current membership fee of R20 plus VAT per agent per month will remain for the next financial year. As far as financial administration, governance and compliance is concerned, I’m able to report a number of improvements, including a new accounts database, the implementation of the Pastel Sage online accounting system, the successful implementation of the debit order facility and on the collections side, the collection of most 1 owner agency fees annually in advance as well as the collection of a number of long outstanding account balances.
Finally in respect of finance, the Pam Golding loan continues to be repaid as per the agreed contract in this regard.
EAAB AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
A third priority identified last year was the need to build on the development of a meaningful working relationship with the EAAB characterised by openness, trust and respect. Your Chairman and in particular, your CEO, have had regular interactions with the CEO of the board but regrettably, despite open, frank and often heated dialogue, I regret to inform you that little real progress has been made in forging a relationship that honours the desired role of partnership between regulator and regulatee for the betterment of the industry, covering a wide range of topics.
As a consequence of this frustration, a meeting was sought with the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Settlements where REBOSA was able to express a range of concerns in detail. As a result of this meeting, a combined meeting including REBOSA and the CEO and Chairman of the EAAB, as well as Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Settlements, has been set up and we remain optimistic that the issues raised will be meaningfully dealt with and that progress can be made on a number of pressing issues. For the sake of expediency, I will not repeat all of the issues raised in this report here as they were included in detailed notes sent to all members and in any event I’m sure they are familiar to you and us all anyway.
Despite these ongoing challenges, REBOSA continues to provide an invaluable service to members in respect of the EAAB. We receive on average 7 complaints daily through email@example.com. This does not include direct queries and/or complaints received by Fiona Chaitowitz on specific EAAB queries.
These challenges, as you know, include late issuing of FFC’s, Audit Reports lost, resulting in non-compliance, Education (CPD, PDE, NQF 4/5) issues, slow registration for new agents, slow deregistration’s and financial administration issues where payments are not allocated and where no invoices for payments are generated.
To deal with the issue of CPD for a moment, I think we can safely say that since the inception of CPD, the industry has been dominated by the effects and outcomes of this programme on the industry as a whole.
REBOSA’s position has been clear and unequivocal from the outset: we have repeatedly gone on record pledging our support for the principle of CPD but also warned the EAAB on multiple occasions that we foresaw problems with implementation and other issues relating to the launch of the programme. Regrettably, these fell on deaf ears and the chaotic, unprofessional and unsatisfactory status quo which you are all familiar with, remains.
As I mentioned earlier, this matter forms a significant part of our grievances raised with the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements and we remain hopeful that in this instance in particular we can effect a number of positive changes. We are now awaiting confirmation of the follow-up meeting.
Moving away from the EAAB and CPD for a moment, a number of other stakeholder engagements took place during the course of the year. These included National Department of Human Settlements, SSETA, the Property Charter council, NAR, IEASA, Western Cape Dept. Human Settlements (Core Group) – Unregistered Estate Agents, SAPOA, NAMA and National Property Forum, further enhancing REBOSA’s good standing and credibility.
Turning now to the all-important question of transformation, I also reported a year ago that finding a practical and sustainable solution to this challenge had to be an imperative for the industry. The ‘One Learner One Estate Agency’ internship programme had the potential to radically transform our industry if correctly applied. REBOSA endorsed the programme as a means for practical empowerment but, importantly and critically, we undertook to attempt to take a lead in determining how this programme will be implemented and, more importantly, funded to ensure buy-in from our members and critically its success.
Regrettably, despite repeated requests, we were not able to have meaningful input into this programme and in particular in respect of the detail surrounding this. We have recently been notified by the EAAB that the ‘One Learner One Estate Agency’ Youth Empowerment Programme was officially launched and became operational on 18 June 2015. The detail remains sketchy at best but industry support in the form of pledges has been widespread, indicating its willingness to participate in a transformation initiative and we remain optimistic, perhaps unrealistically, that this programme will be well implemented and make a meaningful positive difference to transforming the industry.
Moving on to matters legal, in commenting on the relevance of REBOSA, I reported last year that the need for an organisation like REBOSA had never been more relevant. The Real Estate industry continues to be a multi-billion Rand sector governed by a wide range of legislation and regulations that have far reaching effects on real estate agency owners.
This past year has been no different and so from a legal perspective it’s been an extremely busy year and that’s without the new Property Practitioners bill – a forthcoming attraction.
REBOSA is fortunate to have in its employ the full time services of a Parliamentary Liaison Officer. As such, we are at the forefront of any legislative developments that will affect the industry.
REBOSA has throughout the year alerted its stakeholders to the public commentary, commencement of, or promulgation of a number of pending Acts of Parliament which would have a direct impact on Property Practitioners.
There is a full list in the REBOSA report but these include BBBEE Codes of Good Practice, Special Economic Zones Act, Municipal Property Rates Act, Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, Alienation of Land Act, Property Valuation Bill and of course, Protection of Personal Information Bill (PoPI), to name but a few!
Looking ahead, there is no doubt that the Property Practitioners bill will need much of our focus next year.
Turning to matters marketing, one of the other identified priorities was to develop marketing activities to reach out to all residential real estate business owners and industry stakeholders to inform, educate, as well as to provide information regarding the benefits of becoming members of REBOSA.
Methods of communication used included email presentations, print – newspapers and trade journals, Q&A sessions, published trade journal articles, website information, direct mail and sms campaigns.
In the process, REBOSA has developed a new corporate logo and marketing material, revamped the website which is now fully functional and continuously updated. Furthermore, we have created a presence on social media and developed a blog on the REBOSA website. Membership forms (Manual and Electronic) are linked to the website and database. We have developed an industry specific monthly report by the CEO and created an on-going ad campaign and membership drive.
We have designed a membership certificate and standardised logo for members’ electronic communications and printed certification and included NAR Affiliate logo on REBOSA stationery, website and email.
REBOSA events included a cocktail party to welcome Nancy Macaluso, National Association of REALTORS®, President’s Liaison to South Africa and we have embarked on a series of Q&A Sessions via road shows, to encourage membership and build relationships with existing members.
Finally, in terms of priorities identified a year ago, the board was mandated to look at securing the industry’s future in respect of the world of property portals and, in the process, to ensure that the disadvantage the industry finds itself in for example the US and UK, was not repeated here. The REBOSA board decided that a separate but affiliated organisation be set up so as not to conflict with REBOSA or its MOI. As a consequence, the EAPC (Estate Agents Portal Company) was established. I’m pleased to be able to report that an agreement has been reached in this regard with the Private Property portal which, firstly, has an industry representative on the board, ensuring a genuine voting seat at the table. Private Property will actively support Rebosa and promote membership through its 30 plus sales representatives. Discounted products and sponsored membership are on the agenda. Our future is now more secure than what it was.
In closing, I hope you will agree with me that it has been a very successful and busy year for REBOSA – a year characterised by ongoing frustrations and challenges but also progress and wins on multiple fronts. I certainly feel the organisation has come of age this year. Notwithstanding this, there is undoubtedly another challenging year lying in wait but I do feel with increasing support and credibility, as well as resources, the organisation is well placed to meaningfully act in the best interests of its members.
I’d like to end if I may by expressing a vote of thanks. Firstly, I would like to thank our members once again for their support of the organisation. Not just in paying membership fees but for your continued support and endorsement of our objectives and mandate. This organisation would not be in the strong position it is today were it not for our members. Our core strength lies in our collective voice to institute change and our members remain key to our success.
Secondly, the achievements and results of the past year don’t just happen. They are the result of a clear and consistent strategy, purposeful management action and the hard work and dedication of people. And so I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Board for their contribution and commitment.
Finally in terms of thank you’s, I reported last year that a key success factor for the organisation was the appointment of Jan Le Roux as CEO of REBOSA. This has certainly been true of this year. Jan with his industry knowledge, credibility and competence, has been integral and instrumental in taking the organisation to the new heights it has achieved to be the inclusive and powerful voice of real estate business owners in this country. And I would like to thank and congratulate Jan on the excellent job he has done, for his tireless efforts, his diligence, his passion and his patience – this organisation is extremely fortunate to have someone of Jan’s calibre at the helm.
It has been a pleasure to serve as chairman for the past year and I would personally like to express my thanks to you all for your support.
30 June 2015