‘Industry much improved, but expect changes’

Visible changes have been made over the last two years to improve the standard of real estate agencies, but more changes might be on the way, experts at a National Real Estate Congress said yesterday.

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) was set up in October 2010 to enhance regulations for the industry, which has about 1,500 agencies and 32,000 licensed agents.

The statutory board provides regulatory requirements on enhanced licensing and registration of agents, code of practice and ethics, as well as better public education, among others.

Since it was set up, overall standards have improved, with visible changes including “consolidation in the market place, more thorough background checks and fixed qualification requirements at agent recruitments,” said Mr Seah Seng Choon, Executive Director of the Consumers Association of Singapore and a CEA council member.

However, the industry should expect more changes over the next six to 12 months as the CEA evaluates existing issues in the industry, which for the longest time resembled a “cowboy town where anything goes”, Mr Seah added.

He declined to elaborate on the possible changes, but said that efforts have to be made to enhance education for agents to go beyond meeting the minimum requirements on professionalism.

“Part of that entails looking at operational structures of agencies and to see if it’s geared towards just compliance or a true spirit of professionalism. For instance, we may need to assess whether the current KEO (Key Executive Officer) system can sustain an optimal control of agent quality,” he said.

A KEO is responsible for the proper business management and supervision of salespersons at an agency.

Speaking to TODAY, OrangeTee key executive officer Michael Tan felt that the call for going beyond the minimum is a “fair comment”, but stressed that professionalism is also about branding.

“Moving forward, we can try to elevate the professional image of the real estate industry. This will motivate the industry to behave to that benchmark,” he said.

Source : Today – 11 Oct 2012

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