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15 hours 13 minutes ago

Picture: If retail can reopen after 24 hours why not government offices says Dr Daan Steenkamp.

Dr Daan Steenkamp

The three-day and even longer closures of government offices due to Covid-19 scares are costing the property sector, and the country’s economy, billions of rands in lost revenue. If retail outlets can reopen within 24 hours, why not government offices?

Property Professional ran an article on 30 July, in which it reported that the Sandton office of the Estate Agency Affairs Board had been open for seven days only over the past three months, initially owing to hesitancy to reopen during the pandemic and then once open, scares about reported Covid-19 cases in the same building or among their staff.

The ten deeds offices close regularly for the same reason. Last week Monday, in Pietermaritzburg, the municipal rates department, the Master’s Office and the Deeds Office were all closed for this reason.

Dr Daan Steenkamp

Dr Daan Steenkamp

Effect of government office closures

The effect of such closures and the ensuing delay in obtaining rates certificates and registration of transfers/bonds, on the property industry is immense; think property owners, estate agents, conveyancers and banks which all have their cash flow delayed. That cash flow undoubtedly runs into billions of rand annually.

These closures are not particular to the property industry: the whole of civil service is affected by the state-set sanitisation procedures. This means that all clinics, SASSA offices, post offices, government departments and the like are affected to the detriment of the people that they serve. At present, the norm for closure, after sanitation, appears to be three days i.e. a day for sanitisation, followed by a two-day wait. This procedure, unless changed, will continue until so-called herd immunity is achieved. Herd immunity occurs when between seventy and ninety percent of a population has been infected and has recovered. This means that, in an office of a hundred people, that office would have to close for at least 70 x 3 days if employees tested positive for CV19 sequentially.

Time to question government three-day wait policy

The sanitisation-wait period, prescribed by the state, has, until now not, to my knowledge – at least in the press, been seriously questioned by civil society. Commercially, such a lengthy wait-period has been ignored as work/sales equals income, as opposed to our civil service. Hence one repeatedly sees large retail outlets closing for sanitisation and reopening the next morning, or even the same day.

The fact is that such a long sanitisation-wait is unsustainable. If this practice continues, any dealings in which the state is involved will be delayed with our population bearing the brunt of these delays. This has been recognised by the Limpopo Department of Health, that has publicly called for a review of the current sanitisation procedures.

Why the two-day settlement period?

I have not been able to establish from the state why a two-day settlement period after sanitisation is prescribed. A chemist, who manufactures sanitisation products commercially, speculates that the reason for the settlement period after sanitisation is most probably owing to noxious chemicals being used by those who sanitise. One such chemical could be formaldehyde which, by way of example, is very poisonous and which would necessitate a wait after sanitisation. I understand from the chemist that other, equally effective chemicals, are available and could be used for sanitisation. That this is so, is amply demonstrated by the example of retail outlets reopening immediately after sanitisation procedures have been carried out.

Property industry should demand review

What to do? Given that one needs to turn a large ship – sanitisation procedures across the entire civil service – it will not help the cause if, for instance, only conveyancers or only estate agents would complain and demand a review of sanitisation procedures. The property industry, together with banks, should call for such a review. Such a review should include consultation with the private sector: if no consultation takes place, the suspicion will remain that parties who supply the state with chemicals might influence any decision that is taken. As it is, questions have been raised in the press as to why civil servants are entitled to more protection than those in the private sector, in terms of their sanitisation rules. This debate is exacerbated by those holding the opinion that lockdowns are encouraged by unions as their members will be fully paid whether they work or not.

Even better, if all estate agents, conveyancers, banks and those involved in the property industry, were to approach their local chambers of commerce and industry, indeed any civil organisation that presents persons who receive services from the state, and object, and call for a review of sanitisation procedures so as to reduce state-office sanitisation-wait to a day, we may well persuade those who govern us, to change.

End

About the author: Dr Daan is a practising conveyancer and notary public with specific interests in commercial, estate and trust law. He is an experienced attorney capable of handling any form of property work including developments, estate law problems and a wide range of commercial and notarial work.

The post Demand review of public office closures appeared first on Everything Property.

15 hours 13 minutes ago

Picture: Matseleng Mogodi, principal Snooks Estates; Caron Upton, property consultant Harcourts Dunn; Michelle Keegan, head of sales Pam Golding Properties

Whether it is being attacked by an aggressive goose, being alone with eerie lights in an empty show house or protecting their commission from greedy ancestors – this is all possible in a day’s work as an estate agent in South Africa.

“I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it liveable.” — Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist who survived a Nazi concentration camp during WWII

Studies have shown that having a sense of humour is good for one’s mental and physical health. It is an important skill to nourish especially when faced with hard and trying times like the current pandemic and resultant economic hardships.

So, with that in mind, Property Professional asked estate agents to share some of their favourite funny anecdotes when things went very wrong. The following delightful true tales are the result:

“A good laugh is a mighty good thing, a rather too scarce a good thing.” — Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick

Be prepared for anything

Estate agents know that their job always requires to be familiar with the area and to act and look professional, but there are certain eventualities that may be hard to anticipate …

Trish Parsons, Harcourts Hilton agent, relives her ‘Show Day Horror Movie’.

“I had arranged with the owner of a property to host a show day at her home while she was away on holiday. I arrived at the property with about 20 minutes to spare as I knew the client had left the property immaculate and in “show day” condition. All I would need to do was open the curtains, doors at and windows to allow the lovely afternoon sunshine into the home!

Using my keys, I let myself in through the garage which led straight into the kitchen. As I opened the door, I was overcome by the most foul smell and soon after was confronted with what looked like a murder scene spewing out across the kitchen floor! For the first 30 seconds I literally thought I had walked in on a murder scene as the floor was covered in congealed blood!

I soon realised the cause was a recent power failure that had resulted in the plugs in the house tripping, and my dear client had very thoughtfully stocked her freezer full of meat before she had left!

My first instinct was to turn around, get back in my car and put a “SHOW DAY CANCELLED” sign on my board outside and on my FB page. Fortunately my professionalism kicked in and I immediately went into cleaning mode. I rolled up my sleeves, emptied the freezer into black bags, and started to mop up the congealed blood. All the while I was trying very hard not to throw up! I think I may have even shed a few tears whilst using an entire bottle of bleach to try and sanitise the crime scene.

I honestly I don’t know how I managed, but about 30 seconds after I had emptied the freezer and fridge, mopped up the blood, gotten rid of the black bags of rotten food in the outside bin, rushed around the house opening curtains, doors, windows, lighting every scented candle I could find and emptying all the air freshener sprays I could…the gate bell rang! Luckily, the driveway was long enough to give me time to wash my hands, unroll my sleeves and, wipe away my tears and slap some lipstick on. There was a happy ending though – I sold the house that day!

Matseleng Mogodi, principal of Snooks Estates in Gauteng, has heard it all – from money notes that turn into cloth to ancestors that has to approve the commission pay out.

“We had a rental client who came up with the excuse that she was unable to pay the rental for the month because the money had turned into a piece of cloth. She said in Sesotho ‘mo chelete ne ke e beile teng, e fetohile lesela’ which translates into ‘where I put the money, it has turned into a piece of cloth’. This was really bizarre because we all knew there was no way the money could have turned into a fabric.”

Then there was the client who instructed the attorneys to pay the agent’s commission over to her because the money needed to go via amadlozi(ancestors) for protection before being paid to the company. “She said she would pay the money to us once the dlozi (ancestors) process was done. Obviously, the ancestors don’t know us and they’d definitely not agree to family money being paid out, so we refused.”

Speaking of the supernatural, Caron Upton, property consultant with Harcourts Dunn, had a scary experience with faulty lights in an empty show house.

“It was an eerie winter’s afternoon and I was doing a show day in an empty house. I was sitting in the kitchen waiting for clients and prospective buyers to arrive, when the lights suddenly started dimming and then illuminating again – dim, light, dim, light. I am not one for superstition or ghost stories, but this freaked me out completely. I sat there looking at that light toying with my comfort levels and then decided to leave the kitchen immediately – only to find out later that the switch on the dimmer was faulty! Moral of the story: before you guess, investigate!”

Sometimes estate agents end up on top of a gate or at the wrong address …

Bev Sparks, Pam Golding Properties real estate agent in Durban North, recounts the time when she arrived at a property to view it with a client and found the seller in stitches with laughter. “The previous agent had arrived at the house, and saw the driveway gate was accidentally left open – so she went up to the door to ring the bell. However, the seller wasn’t back yet to open up for her. He was just around the corner and obviously pressed the gate remote to open it, which resulted in the gate closing rather than opening. This agent had already started climbing over the gate to get out, so you can imagine the sight of her sitting astride this gate while it was being opened. She did see the funny side of it, and we all had a good laugh.”

Robyn Evans, Harcourts Business Development Manager: KwaZulu-Natal & East London, once asked an agent to sit show for her in a lovely apartment in a secure estate. “I told her that the owners never lock their doors so she could go right in. She arrived half an hour before the show, put up boards outside the entrance and let herself in. The apartment was a total mess with dirty dishes in the sink, beds unmade and clothes all over the place. Like a true professional, she decided that the show should go on and she set about tidying and cleaning so not to embarrass herself when clients came to view. With that her phone rang and it was a friend of hers who lived in the same estate enquiring as to why she had her boards up at number 4B when it was 4C that was For Sale. Can you imagine the surprise of the 4B owners when they arrived home to a clean and tidy home?”

Then there are the little mishaps that you will never forget. Michelle Keegan, Head of Sales at Pam Golding Properties, still remembers an encounter she had many years ago with a very intimidating goose. “I was a rookie agent, operating on the KZN North Coast, and had just arrived at a property to list it for sale. I knocked on the door only to be met by a ‘guard’ goose who chased me right off the property! I actually cleared a little wall, I got such a fright! That goose was very intimidating!”

Janie Parton, Pam Golding Properties agent in uMhlanga, once got a call from clients to show them a property while she was dotting foundation on her face. As she met them at the gate, the power went off due to loadshedding. However, the clients were keen to see the property, so they used the flashlights on their phones. It was only when she got home and looked in the mirror that she saw she still had her foundation dots on her face because she forgot to rub them in. I called the client to apologise and they said it really didn’t matter. We had a good laugh.”

Lastly, Matseleng Mogodi shares about the seller that removed all the electrical wires, plugs and lights in his home before he moved out. “He said he bought these himself and the house didn’t come with wiring – even though there was an Electrical Compliance Certificate done and issued.”

“Life is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get!”(Forrest Gump in the movie Forrest Gump). Isn’t that the truth!

The post Property: Laughter the best medicine appeared first on Everything Property.

17 hours 13 minutes ago

Picture: Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, CEO South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP)

For Vuyiswa Mutshekwane’s her work as CEO of the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners gives her the opportunity to contribute in some small way towards building a more inclusive, just and equitable South Africa – and this gets her leaping out of bed every morning.

The property sector is still often accused of being dominated by mostly white male leadership. However, the rise and success of property doyens like Pam Golding and Aida Geffen have shown that women can make their mark in this competitive industry. These days more and more women from all races are seen to take on the challenge of leadership and making a positive difference in this sector.

August is National Women’s Month. In honour of this, Property Professional will feature an interview with one of these extraordinary women every week of this month. This week’s interview is with Vuyiswa Mutshekwane. This young entrepreneur at heart began her journey in the property sector only five years ago with her appointment as CEO of the country’s most influential black property organisation, the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP).

A chance meeting at the right time

“It was a ‘chance meeting of minds’ and a case of perfect timing,” says Vuyiswa. The 34-year old with an BCom degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics had already made her mark in the fashion retail industry where she ended up as head of sales and marketing for African fashion brand KISUA. After 10 years in the industry she was on a sabbatical while looking for an opportunity to “do more” to contribute directly to the country’s development journey. During a chance meeting with a SAIBPP board member she found that the SAIBPP’s mission really resonated with her. The meeting led to an invitation for an interview and the rest is history.

“I had never heard of the organisation at the time and knew nothing much about the sector, but I was really interested in what the organisation stood for and it was exactly the kind of challenge I was looking for at the time.”

Over time, what was initially a small spark of interest has since evolved into a full-blown obsession with the industry. “I believe wholeheartedly in the property sector and I am committed to seeing the industry thrive and grow.”

Her passion and commitment to making a positive contribution towards a more inclusive and transformed property sector has not gone unnoticed. She was nominated as a 2019 Standard Bank Top Women in Property finalist. Vuyiswa also serves as a non-executive director on the board of Fortress Reit where she chairs the Social and Ethics Committee and is a member of the council and technical committee of the Property Sector Charter Council and of the Land Reform & Food Security Committee at the Black Business Council. She also chairs the new representative body for the broader property sector, the National Property Practitioners Council (NPPC).

For Vuyiswa the highlights of her tenure at the SAIBPP have been to create opportunities for young people to enter the property industry. This includes launching the SAIBPP university chapters on four universities for students studying property-related courses, and then in February this year, the Young Professionals Forum. The latter consists of student members from the chapters as well as property entrepreneurs and professionals. The organisation’s bursary program was also expanded and through it young people were given work opportunities with property companies. “It’s really ignited my hope in the future generation and the future of this country!”

Vuyiswa Mutshekwane address a meeting of the Young Professionals Forum

Vuyiswa Mutshekwane address a meeting of the Young Professionals Forum

The challenges of leadership

As the SAIBPP’s new CEO and also in her new role as chairperson of the NPPC, Vuyiswa has to hold her own among some strong, mostly male, personalities. She acknowledges that this has been challenging at times as men and women tend to approach business and work differently but adds that she has received a lot of encouragement and support from her male colleagues in the industry. “Most (not all) of the people I consider my mentors (unbeknown to them) are male. I appreciate the different perspectives.”

She makes it a habit to surround herself with people who are more knowledgeable, ask ‘stupid questions’ and to volunteer to do things where she might be slightly out of her depth. “I’ve found that is the best way to learn.”

Vuyiswa believes if we see more women in corporate leadership positions then more others will be inspired to reach for those heights. “There is a saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. If we want to move the needle it has to start somewhere and it’s going to take a concerted effort by ALL, especially those currently in positions of power and influence, to be more intentional about mentoring and sponsoring women and about hiring women in senior positions.”

3 tips of advice

Build relationships: Building relationships matters more than “networking” – work on cultivating strong and meaningful relationships in the industry. Also note, it’s not about how many people you know, it’s about how many know you – so seek out opportunities to “make yourself known” by joining professional associations and volunteering or joining the committees etc.. It’s a great way to meet others and expand your influence.

Be yourself: Authenticity always wins and is the easiest way to gain people’s trust and confidence. Also, it’s the one thing that no one can be better at than you.

Be brave: Confidence is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily. Make it a habit to consistently go out of your comfort zone; try new things, talk to people who intimidate you, read things you don’t understand, and use your failures as an opportunity to learn and grow (document them too as it might make good reading one day)!

Asked for her favourite motivational quote, Vuyiswa says she has a few but one that has really resonated with her as a perfectionist, is: “Don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress”.

“Ultimately, what propels me is my deep passion for this country and this continent and my desire to be a part of building a more inclusive, just and equitable society – the work that I get to do within this sector has given me an opportunity to make a difference in some small way and that’s really what gets me leaping out of bed every morning.”

The post Passionate about making a difference appeared first on Everything Property.


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