Property sector slow to transform

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THANDI XABA

Many experts hold the notion that transformation – in all fields alike – can lead to a new spectrum of growth and better investment opportunities.

But according to the outgoing president of the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa), Amelia Beattie, property companies need to attract more talent and do more to develop and keep black professionals.
She was quoted criticising property groups for "not communicating their skills needs to the industry and for failing to promote broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) initiatives".

Her opinion was shared at the annual Sapoa conference in Durban last week where speakers revealed the country faces a shortage of skilled property professionals.

According to Investopedia Listed property is subject to a special set of tax rules if it is used for business no more than 50% of the time.

However, Bloemfontein property expert at Platinum Global, Mike Spencer, says the reality is that top executives of these companies have 20 plus years of experience and usually hold an accounting or similar degree.

"There simply has not been enough time for them to gain that sort of experience and the demand across the board for qualified and experienced black business people is huge. There is an overall lack of skills," he says.

He adds it’s the same in the real estate industry. "While the established agency owners are very much white and 50 years old and plus the new entrants are very much more black orientated as this is the bulk of the young population. I can see a real shift taking place as more and more black people come into our industry."

IPD SA analysed the structure of the leadership of the country’s listed property sector and according to its research, it was found that of the "89 executive managers at JSE-listed property companies, 75 executives or 84.3% were white. Black executives made up just 14 positions, with only one of these being female".

"It would be better to look at the middle management level where these people are gaining skills and that would give a far better picture," explains Spencer.

Reports further indicate that the country’s listed property sector has grown speedily over the past few years and is currently worth R448 billion.

thandi@centralmediagroup.co.za