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Customer ratings and transactions of property agents to be made public

The Real Estate Industry Transformation Map aims to improve transparency and accountability in the property sector. 

In a bid to improve transparency and accountability in the property sector, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) will work with agencies to publish customer ratings of real estate agents, revealed Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee in unveiling the latest roadmap for the real estate industry.

Property deals closed by agents will also be made available for viewing by home buyers and sellers, starting with public housing transactions by end-2018 and private residential transactions by end-2019.

SEE ALSO: Slight rise in number of property agents this year

The CEA-led workgroup will also work towards making it easier for companies to access property-related data, so that they could automate administrative processes in property transactions, reported Channel NewsAsia.

Lee said data from Singapore Land Authority, the Ministry of Manpower and Housing and Development Board will be progressively made available later in the year.

“If we do this right, we can minimise the use of hardcopy documents such as cheques and cashier’s orders, all of which are time-consuming to process.”

He noted that the facilities management and property transaction services sectors have been identified in the industry transformation map (ITM) as having “immense potential for transformation”, especially in the areas of workforce upskilling and adoption of technology.

Meanwhile, property agency ERA Realty Network has expressed its support for the ITM.

“ERA has been in the real estate agency business for 36 years. As one of the largest agencies with significant market share, we are fully supportive of the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (REITM). We look forward to work with the authorities and various stakeholders to move our industry forward together,” it said.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin explained that the ITM’s objective is to improve the efficiency of property transactions and not replace jobs, reported the Business Times.

“We don’t set out to take away jobs; that’s not the objective,” he said during a panel discussion at the 2018 ERA Asia Pacific Business Conference, which was attended by over 2,000 agents and brokers from across the region.

And while agents may consider the government “heartless” for this move, the end-goal of the ITM is to improve the quality of life for all Singaporeans by making property transactions pain-free, he added.

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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Slight rise in number of property agents this year

There are now 28,571 registered property agents in Singapore.

The number of registered property agents in Singapore rose slightly to 28,571 as at 1 January 2018, up from 28,397 during the same period last year, according to data released by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) on Thursday (4 January).

This is still lower than the 29,262 registered agents seen at the start of 2016.

While CEA issued 66 new property agency licences and 1,344 new property agent registrations throughout 2017, a total of 44 property agency licences and 2,028 property agent registrations lapsed after 31 December.

Chia I-Ling, director, policy & licensing at CEA, said: “The increase in the number of registered agents could be due to a positive outlook on the real estate market.”

Lim Yong Hock, key executive officer of PropNex Realty, said: “In today’s market, increasing number of younger individuals are drawn to the real estate segment as the profession is no longer deemed as a “mid-career switch” option, but instead a long term rewarding career.

“In PropNex, we have fresh graduates and professionals who were doing really well in their previous careers joining us, drawn by their passion for properties and opportunities presented in the industry.”

CEA data also shows that the number of licensed property agencies fell to 1,269 as at 1 January from 1,286 a year ago.

The largest property agency in Singapore is PropNex Realty with 6,684 agents, followed by ERA Realty Network with 5,882 agents and OrangeTee & Tie (3,898).

10 largest property agencies

Source: Council for Estate Agencies

The number of salespersons at PropNex shot up by 21 percent from 5,510 last year, mainly attributed to a merger with Dennis Wee Group (DWG) in June.

“We are indeed witnessing a change in the real estate industry scene where many small to mid-sized firms might choose not to continue operating on their own and will instead consolidate their business with the bigger players,” noted Lim. 

Said Chia. “As the industry continues to evolve, CEA encourages property agents to upskill and leverage technology to keep pace with the changing business environment and meet increasing consumer expectations.”

Lim revealed that PropNex has invested more than $ 10 million in the last five years to provide a range of trainings and development programmes for salespersons to raise their knowledge, skills and service standards, in order to remain relevant in the industry.

PropertyGuru is organising an Agent Summit 2018 on 16 January. Find out more about the future of real estate agents and technology. To register, please click here.

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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Property agents battle with the lure of earning easy money

With the growing demand for short-term accommodations, property agents in Singapore contend with the constant struggle of fending off temptations of earning additional income by listing and managing vacant rooms or units on Airbnb.

A property agent who wanted to be known only as William said requests to list and manage units or rooms on Airbnb would usually come from overseas-based property owners or Singapore homeowners who wanted to “skip the hassle of managing (the short-term rental of their units) themselves”, reported Today Online.

OrangeTee & Tie property agent Timothy Chew revealed that he receives about 10 calls in a year from people in need of short-term accommodation.

Most of the calls come from foreigners with short-term visit passes who are here in Singapore for medical reasons or Singaporeans in need of a place to stay since their homes are being renovated.

And while Chew referred them to serviced apartments, some agents would usually refer such clients to homes listed on Airbnb due to the higher rent for serviced apartments.

Agents could also earn a higher commission from such deals, since their agencies are usually cut out from the transactions.

Propnex Realty agent Aaron Lin, however, pointed: “Is it worth it to take such risks? You still have to clean up the place every two to three days.”

Moreover, errant agents could lose their licence, be sacked by their agencies, or worse, brought to court – just like what happened to Savills Residential property agents Yao Songliang and Terence Tan En Wei.

The duo, who were the first to be brought to court for violation of Singapore’s short-term stay policy, allegedly rented out four units at D’Leedon condominium in Farrer Road for short-term accommodations via Airbnb.

With this, Suntec Real Estate Consultants research director Colin Tan said property agents “should know better” than to run the risk of losing their source of livelihood for easy money.

“These people are doing it quite blatantly… it forces the authorities to come down hard on them,” he added.

 

This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.

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