10 Jun 2010, 9.00AM
The Ministry of National Development has announced the setting up of a new statutory board, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), as well as an enhanced regulatory framework to boost professionalism in the real estate industry and safeguard consumer interest. These announcements arose from an industry consultation exercise on the issue last year.
The announcement has been well-received by REACH contributors, who express confidence that the new statutory board, as well as the requirements under its enhanced licensing framework will enhance professionalism and improve service delivery. Some opine that the establishment of a regulatory body such as the CEA to oversee the real estate industry is long overdue. Many also note that the publication on the public registry of information pertaining to the awards, recognition and disciplinary actions of real estate agents and agencies will be useful to consumers.
While some applaud the move to require real estate agents to undertake compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD), others feel that the mandated six hours of training a year is too little, given the high volume of transactions they handle. Others feel that CPD is not as crucial for real estate agents, since industry developments and policy changes can be easily communicated via real estate agencies. Some note that the Common Examination for House Agents (CEHA) is a more relevant qualification for real estate agents.
Some also express reservations about the set-up of the CEA, noting that its functions can be undertaken by existing agencies such as the Housing Development Board or Urban Redevelopment Authority. They wonder how relevant the statutory board will be when the property market slows down.
Contributors also put forth more suggestions to improve the real estate agency industry, which include:
- Establishing a feedback channel to handle complaints;
- Requiring real estate agencies to submit quarterly reports to CEA on the number and status of feedback received;
- Limiting the number of real estate agents employed in each agency for better management and supervision of agents; and
- Enabling clients to post reviews of services rendered on the public registry.