Walls come crumbling down upon stunned estate agents

2011-01-15 16:15

Shock and worry have set in among the estate agents who work under the banner of the ­embattled Wendy Machanik Properties.

“This has been the worst week of my entire life,” said one estate agent who is employed by Wendy Machanik Property Holdings (WMP).

He is just one of many who have been negatively affected by the allegations made against WMP last week, and the hold on its provisional operations.

“We cannot trade right now. The only way we can operate is if we go and join another company,” said the agent, who did not want to be named.

Another agent, Liz ­Mngome- zulu, would only say: “Things are really hectic right now.”

She added that the issue was “sensitive”.

Some of WMP’s agents had resigned and were taking their listings elsewhere.

The company’s website was no longer operational this week.

Property mogul Wendy Machanik’s multimillion-rand empire started unravelling over the past two weeks, after disclosures that she was being investigated for allegedly misappropriating R25?million from her agency’s trust ­accounts.

The Estate Agency Affairs Board won an interim order to stop the firm from trading as it did not have the necessary ­fidelity fund certificate to operate, as required by the Estate Agents Act.

According to the board’s executive manager of compliance, Lindiwe Bulo, however, it was “not all gloom and doom”.

She said WMP estate agents were not barred from operating in their personal capacities.

She added that there was nothing stopping them from searching for alternative employment with another estate agency – as long as it was fully registered and had a valid fidelity fund certificate for this year.

They could, with the correct qualifications, even acquire principal status and start up their own estate agencies.

Another board official said there had been no attempt to meet with WMP’s agents, as far as she was aware.

“I think they are all out looking for jobs,” the official said. “I know I would be.”

Those agents who continued to be employed by Wendy Machanik Property Holdings would be prohibited from working, pending the final verdict of Judge Lötter Wepener, the ­official said.

The case is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

Potential buyers calling the embattled agency were being asked to leave their numbers so that they could be contacted at a later time.

When asked whether much business was being lost, one ­estate agent said: “Well, we’ll make it up somewhere else.”

Another employee said he couldn’t believe how “an empire fizzled to nothing in a week”.

Wendy Machanik’s legal representative, Cyril Ziman, said that agents would still be paid.

“There is no shortage of funds in Wendy Machanik Property Holdings,” he said. “There are sufficient funds in those trust accounts to pay all trust creditors, including commissions to agents. Nobody need worry about not getting their money.”

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