Penny Mboyi, the eldest of four children, grew up during the 1960s in Kwa Thema in the East Rand of Gauteng. Gwynedd Peters sat down with Penny to find out how she transitioned from teaching to banking, and finally settling down as the principal of her own estate agency with AWCI Homes.

Penny’s life before Real Estate is an inspiring journey, which saw her give-up teaching only six months after her career begun, “my parents encouraged me to attain a diploma in education because they believed it would give me job security however due to the lack of a steady income and hefty transport bills, I knew I had to make a change” a decision which was later followed by a move into the banking sector.

Penny joined Standard Bank in Springs in 1981 making her one of the first black woman to join the group and be placed in a career development programme. After 16 years of serving in different sectors for two of the major banks, her involvement in housing happened when she joined NURCHA (National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency) an NGO that worked closely with the Department of Human Settlements in running projects and tenders awarded to contractors for housing and development of schools etc.

After working in the housing industry, and while studying towards her MBA in 2012 Penny took a leap of faith and registered a Real Estate Agency. Says Penny: “I knew that I had banking and business experience, and had advanced people skills. The only thing I didn’t have is knowledge of the housing price and evaluation market.

But I buckled down and eventually learnt what I needed to know and applied for my Real Estate license. Thanks to my qualifications, and business experience I got my Principalship immediately after applying for the Real Estate business.”

Penny started advertising immediately, and says she enjoyed every minute of it. “I learned a lot very quickly, and was able to navigate the business quite easily. The job required an eye for quality and attention to detail. You need to know your facts to give sound advice. Know where to refer your clients if there is something that needs to be done in the process. Be patient, a good negotiator, listener and facilitator, especially with people living in the townships or when dealing with family houses – you have to be a master in conflict resolution too.”

“Passion must drive you. Your clients will be your best advertisement. Understanding people makes the job easy. Most importantly I would say network with other agents and Principles, join organisations to stay abreast of the industry, and be an active part of a group,” she insists.

Penny says: “Transformation is slow in the industry, especially for black women, but organisations such as AWCI Property and the EAAB have come up with programmes for new recruits and interns to try and increase the number of black practitioners in the industry.”

“I believe internships and in-house training programmes are the key to successful transformation. Through these learning opportunities new recruits are able to gain knowledge about business, customer relations and the industry at large. And while transformation may not be as quick as we would like, companies like AWCI Property continue to empower women, through the encouragement of entrepreneurial spirit, producing a number of qualified principals.”

Penny says she has encountered many myths since starting her journey in the Real Estate industry. She says: “A lot of education needs to take place in the black community, as people still prefer to rent rather than buy. I believe this mindset needs to change. I believe, if you can afford to rent, you can afford to buy your own home. Doing this creates financial stability, and allows you the opportunity to grow your property portfolio.”

“Another myth is that people think they don’t qualify for RDP houses, so there is no hope for them. They are unaware of the various government subsidy programmes that are available. Being able to buy your own home with the help of a subsidy means you are able to contribute to your own wealth.”

Penny’s final words of advice: “For potential homeowners buy smart, based on location, size and facilities best suited to you and your family. For agents, get into a mentoring programme and learn from experienced agents and Principals.

“Take every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t be scared to try something new. Embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with Real Estate, and break away from the idea that you have to study something that guarantees you a fixed job and fixed income. Dare to dream big, and experience being your own boss.”

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