25 August 2023

There is a lot more to being a real estate agent than sales. Property is a complex and diverse field. When you embark on a career in this field, there are many courses on offer which can make it tricky to choose the course of study that will give you a firm foundation on which to build your professional presence in the industry.

A reminder:

With the promulgation of the Property Practitioners Act, a new regulatory authority, the Professional Practitioners’ Regulatory Authority (PPRA), replaced the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Many of the certification requirements remain the same: All practising estate agents in South Africa must complete a professional designation exam – PDE 4 for agents and PDE 5 for principals.

We’ve put together a few pointers to guide you as you select a course of study and share a list of courses from which to choose. When you decide on a course, and in addition to your special focus, consider what works for you without compromising quality.

Online versus in person learning

Thanks to the pandemic, the debate about the benefits of online versus in-person learning has become more heated. Both have distinct advantages and for many, online learning beats face-to-face or in-person learning. The main reason for this is because of its flexibility and being able to log in and study on one’s own time. However, this also has certain disadvantages, including not benefitting from real-time group engagement where we can learn from our peers. Having to go to classes forces discipline on us, too. With online learning, especially if it’s not synchronous (i.e. in real time), it’s all too easy to “put it off until tomorrow”. When that happens, it’s often a mad scramble to get those assignments in, just to meet the course requirements, rather than spending time and doing a deep dive into the subject matter.

A selection of university courses in Real Estate and Property

Below are some options of institutions that offer real estate courses along with a summary of the key points. The majority are university-based courses which are mostly face-to-face or blended learning. Some are available as online or distance learning options. To find out more about any of these courses, please contact the institution directly.

Degree courses in real estate

Three universities in South Africa offer degree courses in Real Estate: the universities of Witwatersrand, Pretoria, and Cape Town. Cape Peninsula University of Technology also offers a diploma course in Real Estate.

University of Witwatersrand – Bachelor of Science Construction Studies (in the field of Property Studies):

The University of Witwatersrand - Wits - is situated in South Africa’s economic hub and just north of the Johannesburg CBD. Property studies fall into the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment’s School of Construction Economics and Management which is located on its main Braamfontein campus.

The curriculum of this full-time degree course, in addition to offering the opportunity to speacialise in corporate real estate and facilities management, encompasses the broad property business, including finance, investment, development, and valuation. For acceptance into the course, candidates must have an admission point score (APS) of more than 36 as well as English home language or first additional language and Mathematics - both at Level 5. The fees for the first year of this course were just under R71,000 for 2023.

University of Pretoria – Bachelor of Science in Real Estate

The University of Pretoria has seven campuses around Pretoria with nearly 56 thousand under- and postgraduate students. Real Estate falls into the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology in the Department of Construction Economics on the South Campus.

Like all bachelor’s degrees in South Africa, this is a three-year course at NQF level 7 that focuses on fixed property including economics, development valuation, financing and marketing. To apply for the course, you must have a National Senior Certificate with a bachelor’s pass and in addition to English home language or English first additional language, you must have passed mathematics and physical sciences or accounting. Because places are limited, selection is stringent, and the university may add other selection criteria. The fees, per year (for three years) range from R58,000 to R64,000 in 2023.

University of Cape Town - Bachelor of Science in Property Studies

The University of Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest university nestled at the foot of Table Mountain. It is considered to be the leading university on the continent and is highly rated globally.

The BSC in property studies falls into the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment. It aims to give students a broad foundation in economics, property law, valuation and development. In addition to communication and computer skills, and of particular interest to real estate agents, this degree pays attention to evaluating and structuring finance for property investments, assessing feasibility and risk in property developments, valuing property assets and managing property portfolios. This degree – with experience – is accepted by the South African Council for the Property Valuers Profession (SACPVP). Successful students can progress from bachelors to honours and master’s degrees.

Entry requirements for this bachelor programme include either another degree or a Bachelor’s pass National Senior Certificate with mathematics. Candidates may also have to write an entrance examination which is the National Benchmark Test. The fee for the first year of study in 2023 is around R74,000.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology - Diploma in Real Estate

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has more than 30 thousand students and there are five campuses spread across the broader Cape Town Metropole and offers.

This three-year diploma in real estate is geared for careers in property, generally, as well as valuation. Graduates with experience can apply for registration with the SACPVP. For admission to the diploma in real estate, applicants must have an NSC with specified pass marks in English, mathematics and either economics, business economics or accounting. For mature students, there is an option to apply for this course using a recognition of a prior learning pathwhich may or may not grant them exemptions from certain parts of the learning programme.

You can study this three-year diploma course either full-time or via distance learning. For the full-time course, the fees for 2023 are around R26,000 per year.

Additional courses in real estate

For those who are looking to write your PDE, there are other accredited providers who offer courses in real estate, including:

iSiKolo School of Learning

iSiKolo was started by a real estate professional and offers NQF level 5 training via three modalities, in-person, online and recognition of prior learning (RPL). If you already have some property experience, RPL may be an attractive and relatively quick way of moving your real estate career to the next level.

Prop Academy

Through the Prop Academy, you can access a range of online real estate courses that lead to certification - both full-time and also via RPL. These include the mandatory qualifications for the PDE exam as well as a range of other short courses in real estate that can help practising real estate professionals earn continuous development (CPD) points. In addition to these programmes, the Prop Academy also offers workshops and short courses in new venture creation and commercial property management.

Other training for Estate agents: Accredited institutions and short courses

There are many short courses in real estate that can help practising real estate professionals earn continuous development (CPD) points. These courses tend to focus on niche areas of interest, and/or are a good way of updating your knowledge. When looking at short courses, bear in mind the following important guidelines:

All qualifications in South Africa are pegged on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and this includes the PDE. For real estate courses and qualifications to be properly registered and approved by the PPRA, they must be offered by institutions that are accredited by the relevant education and training authority:

  • The Council for Higher Education which accredits and quality assures universities
  • The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations which quality assures training by organisations accredited by the Services SETA under which the real estate profession falls

For more information about the real estate profession and if you’d like to become a property agent, please contact your nearest RE/MAX office.

Have more unanswered questions? Here are some related questions – and answers – that might help…

Do estate agents get a basic salary?

No, estate agents don’t usually get a basic salary but rather earn commission based on each sale. However, this depends on the agreement between the individual and the agency or franchise with which they work.

How much does a property agent make in South Africa?

The average income for an estate agent in South Africa will fluctuate depending on sales because it is based on the commission they earn. Their earning potential is determined by the number of sales they make and the price point at which they’re selling homes.

Send to a Friend