Lack of Regulation In The Property Industry Is A Major Problem 

By Ntokozo Nkambule

The local property sector is currently unregulated in the country. This, in effect, means a person can wake up and start a property agency, without any experience or any form of qualification.

In actual fact, the Eswatini Observer (23 March 2023) reports that four men in the country face 11 charges of theft after allegedly conning the public over E440 000 by pretending to be real estate agents.

Our sister publication, Eswatini Property Review, has conducted interviews before with two industry experts; Seeff Eswatini Licensee Anthony McGuire and Musa Nhleko from Mgilija Properties.

In the interview, Nhleko noted that there isn’t much that can be achieved in the property industry without any form of organization or regulation. As a result, he and a number of other practitioners established the Eswatini Realtors Association- a local property association.

 He says the key reason behind the formation of the association is to push for regulation of estate agents in the country, amongst other things.

“The key rationale behind the formation of our association was to push for regulation. There isn’t much you can do in the country without an association, so organization is paramount. The government does not even recognize estate agents in the gazetted Sectional Titles Act, which is a shame because we are the ones who will be on the ground” he noted.

Nhleko went on to mention that the industry faces similar problems such as the mushrooming of estate agents with no experience, track record, or qualifications. 

He noted that this can only be solved by the regulation of estate agents in the country, which is why it’s their core mission as the Eswatini Realtors Association to have the sector regulated. He said what brought him joy is the fact that government recognizes their association.

McGuire concurs with Nhleko stating that regulation within the property industry is critical. 

“The issue of regulation within our Industry is critical and continues to be a major concern for real estate agencies and consumers alike. The industry being unregulated is the very reason that the major role players (the Agents themselves) have seen fit to form associations in order to bring some degree of self-regulation; accountability and standards to the industry.”

McGuire further urged customers to be cautious and ensure that they only ever engage with reputable and suitably qualified, experienced property professionals.

He noted that the risks associated with working with “briefcase” agents are potentially devastating.

“As it stands the industry is unregulated and there is nothing prohibiting any man on the street from operating as an ‘agent’ with no training or qualifications, which is of major concern. We are dealing with people’s most valuable assets and ultimately their livelihoods. Real estate professionals need to be held to high standards under which they must conduct their business which is one of the main reasons for the establishment of the Association.”

On a positive note, McGuire reveals that they have made progress on the issue with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development.

“On the issue of regulation, we were invited by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to peruse and comment on proposed Estate Agents Regulations in 2017 and have been engaged with them since on the matter. A tremendous amount of excellent work has gone into this from both Government and various stakeholders alike. The framework for regulation is in place and the matter remains top of our list of priorities for 2022”.

McGuire concludes by stating there is a strong will from the Ministry to push for regulation. 

“Our meetings with the Ministry indicate that the intention is fully there for these regulations to come into operation in the course of 2022.”

N.B Please note that this article was first published in Eswatini Property Review, our sister publication.

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