Nomhle Cibi: From cleaner to estate agent

An experienced estate agent makes the legal and financial language of real estate transactions accessible to clients.

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“It is their duty to protect the interest of clients at all times,” says Nomhle Cibi, estate agent and franchisee at Only Realty. Her areas of operation are Witbank, Middelburg and Bronkhorstspruit.

“When looking to buy, rent or sell property, most people are likely to start their search on the internet. The properties they find are most often listed by an estate agent who is familiar with the local property market, understands consumer behaviour and is able to communicate with people at different levels,” says Cibi.

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Furthermore, estate agents are qualified professionals who are registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and governed by a code of conduct, common law, as well as the EAAB Act, enforceable by means of disciplinary action.

Cibi says fate led her to this career, and seven years later, she has found her niche in real estate. “It hasn’t always been easy. If you aspire to be an estate agent you need to be passionate about property, driven, self-motivated, honest and persistent with a problem-solving mindset.”

According to Cibi, contrary to what many people think, being an estate agent is not a get rich quick scheme. One can go for as long as six months without earning an income, and such times require a financial buffer.

Cibi started her real estate journey in 2014 as an intern agent for ERA Real Estate, and recently joined Only Realty. Cibi speaks to Safrea MediaHub about her job. 

Nomhle Cibi estate agent
Nomhle Cibi

How did you end up as an estate agent?

I lost my job and still needed to pay the bills. The best option at that time was cleaning people’s homes on a part-time basis. I cleaned a client’s house and she was very impressed and referred me to ERA Real Estate. The first apartment I cleaned left them equally impressed with the level of professionalism. I was then contracted to clean all their properties all over Witbank.

While I loved the cleaning side, I soon realised that I wanted to manage properties. I put on a brave face and asked management if they were hiring agents. I was invited for an interview, and I got the job. That is when my real estate journey formally started.

What is a typical day for you?

An estate agent often works outside a typical structure. I can start as early as 5 a.m. to sort out issues such as a burst pipe, whereas on some days, my day starts at 9 a.m.

Usually, I would start with responding to emails, text messages and returning calls that may have come through late evening to early morning.

This is followed by an agents’ meeting. I then spend time showing properties to prospective clients, vetting potential buyers and tenants, as well as signing rental and sales deals. I also have admin work such as listing the properties on various portals, marketing the property listings on social media platforms, and preparing data-related information for clients.

What are some of the challenges of being an estate agent, especially as a woman of colour?

There are various challenges. Building a career is tough and there are very few mentors. When starting out, you work under an experienced estate agent and this prepares you for the competitive environment.

Creating a database of potential clients and gaining people’s trust is hard and requires persistence.

The prevalence of gender and colour discrimination cannot be overlooked. Certain clients prefer to conduct business with white agents. If you want to be successful, you need a resilient attitude and not allow the stereotypes to break you down.

Another challenge is that female agents are often at high risk regarding safety when meeting with male clients, as they are occasionally vulnerable to unwelcome advances from these clients. Where possible, female agents should consider having a travelling companion when showing houses and all activities that require meeting with clients outside the business premises.

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What qualifications are needed in order to become an estate agent?

An intern estate agent needs to complete a 12-month internship of being mentored by a professional and experienced agent. This requirement will ensure that the intern is provided with a personal record of all practical tasks completed, and experience gained in the workplace.

Furthermore, the intern is expected to complete and maintain a logbook in which accomplished activities are recorded and signed off by the principal/mentor/coach/supervisor assigned to assist and provide the intern estate agent with logistical support during the internship period.

No exemptions are granted for completing the internship or the logbook.

Moreover, an intern estate agent must complete the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) in Real Estate NQF Level 4. This is done through an accredited provider, and successful candidates will receive a certificate of competence from the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Services SETA).

This qualification has 150 credits, equating the 1,500 study hours needed to complete the course. It is possible to combine the FETC NQF Level 4 qualification and the internship so that the intern estate agent can work on these two aspects of the qualification simultaneously, as long as they have completed at least eight months of their internship.

If the intern holds any degrees or diplomas in certain areas, it is possible to apply for, and be exempt from completing the FETC. An intern must also write and pass the Professional Designation Exam (PDE) after they have been found competent by the Services SETA in their NQF Level 4 Portfolio of Evidence (PoE).

What has been the best and worst experience in your job?

My best experiences are always the same; seeing a client smile and thanking me for helping them to realise their real estate goals. I’ve had a client die a day before registration of their new property. They had such big plans for the property so it was quite a sad moment for me.

When I am not working, I like to read and take my dogs, Storm and Trooper, for walks.

What’s your experience with technology?

Technology is a game changer in the way we conduct business. I can now sign documents electronically and keep in touch with clients and the team even when I am not in the office.

Clients no longer need to be with the estate agent to view a property on show, thanks to virtual tours. Application forms, lease agreements and sales agreements can all be concluded using a mobile device.

Using technology is convenient to clients, and the agency saves on resources while minimising human interaction in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Edited by Gudrun Kaiser

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.

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