Black property practitioners, who still suffer from minority participation in the industry, will likely be hardest-hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown, according to Tholo Makhaola, president of the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP).
These include developers, agents and brokers, managing agents, property managers and facilities managers, property valuers, bond originators and those related to the industry such as contractors and professionals from the built environment.
"The property sector is one of the highest contributors to GDP, directly, and indirectly, through related services and employs millions who will undoubtedly be negatively impacted by the pending economic downturn," says Makhaola.
"It will not be business-as-usual, this is definitely a wake-up call for certain segments of the industry like the office market, which are bound to be negatively impacted with the increased shift to remote work and various technology platforms."
His message to black practitioners is that "this is not the time to wallow in self-pity, there is still lots of room for those who are willing to explore new opportunities".
"To avoid a repeat of economic policy missteps of the past, which have only served to widen inequality and stifle meaningful transformation, we must accept that long-term sustainable growth cannot be achieved without a deliberate drive to transform the economic structure of the country."
He adds that structural transformation targeted at designing an economic future that includes all South Africans and in equal measure, benefits black people and black business at all levels of the value chains.
To that end, SAIBPP calls for urgent interventions to be implemented to act as catalysts for economic development and assist with the post-lockdown recovery of the property sector. These include the organisation calling on Treasury to redirect at least 10% of government spending towards housing and infrastructure development
It would also like to see all public and private housing grants, housing finance agencies, government housing subsidies and guarantees schemes consolidated to make a meaningful difference.
SAIBPP also suggests that, for a limited period, the already pooled funds through the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) be used to provide income support to commission earners and contract workers within the property sector.
This includes real estate agents and brokers who are not eligible for UIF and only earn months after a transaction is concluded.
Furthermore, the organisation would like to see government urgently prioritising township development and and assisting in unlocking the economic potential of township areas.