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How to Become a Principal Property Practitioner

To become a principal property practitioner in South Africa and own your real estate firm, you must comply with the controlling regulatory authority, The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority.  The PPRA was previously known as The Estate Agents Affairs Board, the EAAB.  The Property Practitioners Act No 22 of 2019 was promulgated in February 2022.  Agents/Practitioners are also governed by The Property Practitioners Code of Conduct.  Well, what does this all mean?  Let’s summarise “how to become a property practitioner” for you.

From Intern or Candidate Property Practitioner:

Terminology recently changed the naming of an intern agent to a candidate property practitioner.
The candidate practitioner enters the property industry in South Africa as an employee of an estate agency firm. They register with the PPRA and receive a Fidelity Fund Certificate.  No practitioner may trade as an estate agent or practice under an estate agency firm without an FFC.

Whilst trading under the candidate status, they require the assistance of a principal or non-principal practitioner in completing any documentation with a client. Once the candidate has received an FFC, they have a stipulated period within which to become qualified as Full Status, failing which their FFC is withdrawn, and they may no longer trade.  As of November 2022, this period is stipulated at two years.  During that period, they must complete their intern logbookNQF4 qualification and PDE4 exam. They will then achieve full status.

From Full Status or Non-Principal Property Practitioner:

A non-principal property practitioner must achieve principal status to open and manage an estate agency firm in South Africa.  How is this achieved?  There are typical scenarios which are broken down:

  • “I have only achieved full status – what are my next steps?”

You will have to complete the full qualification known as NQF5 Real Estate.  The full name of the qualification is National Certificate: Real Estate: 20188: NQF Level 5.  This is a five-month course and will take at least an additional three months for SSETA certification.

Once you achieve your NQF5 certification, you will receive a Principal FFC and have two years to pass your PDE5 exam, failing which your FFC will be rescinded.

  • “I am a full status/non-principal practitioner and have managed an estate agency firm under a principal practitioner – what are my next steps.”

This is a shorter process as you can complete your NQF5 through Recognition of Prior Learning, RPL.  The course will take up to three months and is a compilation of your work experience.  To qualify for RPL, you will be assessed by PropAcademy and must prove that you have managed an agency and can manage a trust account.

Exemptions apply to all facets of legislated education

  • Intern Logbook: A candidate may be exempt if he had traded as a practitioner for five years before 2013.
  • PDE4 & PDE5: If you were a practitioner for five consecutive years before 2008, you would be exempt from the exam level stipulated on the FFC you held at that time.
  • NQF4 & NQF5: Always check the PPRA website to see what diplomas, degrees, and NQF credits may exempt you from completing these qualifications.

How can I open my agency before obtaining my required principal status is a common question?

This can only be overcome if you employ a Principal Practitioner to manage the firm while obtaining your qualifications.

You will also have to open your entity to manage your agency.  Your accountant or auditor will probably complete this process, investigate the PPRA’s requirements, open the firm with CIPC and adhere to the normal SARS protocols.

How to Own Your Own Real Estate Agency in South Africa

So you’re a high-achieving real estate agent. You work hard for your commission and you’re tired of paying over a large amount of your earnings to the estate agency firm you work for every time you make a sale.

How to Own Your Own Real Estate Agency in South Africa

You want to be your own boss, own your own estate agency firm, and retain your commission for yourself. And possibly, one day, you may even have estate agents working for you and paying over some of their commission to you!

That’s a great ambition to have. Real estate is an exciting profession, but even more so when you are in control of your own agency.

But before you rush off to sign a lease on your new premises, there are a few steps you have to take. The first, and most important of these, is to become a Principal Estate Agent.

The Estate Agents Affairs Board (EAAB) requires that the owner of every estate agency must be a qualified Principal Estate Agency – or Principal Property Practitioner. This means that you must have had some experience in running an estate agency firm and you will have qualified in terms of regulations set by the EAAB and by Services SETA (SSETA).

Let’s start at the beginning and track the route every prospective real estate agent must take en route to owning his or her own estate agency firm.

The first step – for every new entrant to the profession regardless of their background or previous qualifications – is to join an estate agency firm, obtain a fidelity fund certificate (FFC), and complete a 12-month internship. During this 12-month period, the intern estate agent collects information and completes a portfolio of evidence (PoE) which must be lodged with the EAAB.  You can enrol in our online Intern PoE logbook course directly on our website right away.

If you have already been in the industry for a few years, you will also have to produce a PoE for the Board, clearly showing evidence of at least a year in the field before you can become a full status estate agent.

The EAAB requires all intern agents complete their studies to become full status estate agents within two years from the time they are issued with their Fidelity Fund Certificate from the Board.

To become a full status estate agent, you must complete the Further Education Training: National Qualification Forum Level 4 Real Estate (NQF4) qualification, and then write your EAAB Professional Designated Exam level 4 (PDE4). All of these courses are available on our website and can be completed from the comfort of your home or office via an internet enabled mobile or computer device.

At PropAcademy, we strongly recommend that you start your NQF4 once you have been in the business for three months – while you are still completing your intern logbook PoE.

That’s because your NQF4 will take six-and-a-half months to complete. Then, once it’s submitted to SSETA (PropAcademy can assist you with this), it will take approximately one year before you are issued with a competency certificate.

Only once you have this can you can register with the EAAB to write your PDE4 to have your status changed from intern agent to full status agent – and you’ll be entitled to use the letters PPRE (Property Practitioner Real Estate) in your advertising material.

What if you have a degree or qualification which includes you having passed subjects that are directly related to the real estate industry? The EAAB makes provision for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) so it’s possible that you may be exempt from writing the NQF4 qualification.  An exemption matrix is available on the EAAB website.

Recognition of Prior Learning also relates to estate agents who have been estate agents since 2008 with no break in service and wrote the old Estate Agents Exam during that period.

So now you’ve completed your NQF4 (or obtained exemption) and your PDF4 qualification. You’re a full status estate agent. Your next step is to go on and achieve Principal Estate Agent status.

The EAAB requires you to have at least two years’ hands-on management of running a business, or to have been involved in the running of your employer’s estate agency firm. In addition, you will have to obtain an NQF5 qualification and pass your PDE5 exam.

Your NQF5 can be completed in six months but your work will then have to go through the normal SSETA channels before you can be issued with a certificate of competency.

Once that is done and you have your certificate, you will have to register with the EAAB to write your PDE5 and voilà, you will now be a Principal Estate Agents (soon to be known as a Principal Property Practitioner).

And NOW you can register and run your own estate agency business.

There are many regulations that must be adhered to in running your own estate agency. These are set out in the Estate Agents Affairs Act as well as the Code of Conduct and Ethics. PropAcademy can help to guide you through the requirements to ensure that when you are audited by the Board you are not penalised for any irregularities.

If you have any questions or would like further assistance with the process of becoming a real estate agency owner, or you’d like to know more about the real estate courses we offer, please feel free to contact us, and we’ll gladly assist you.

Written by Janet Alexander, CEO, PropAcademy