Number of property agents set to shrink

Lesser property agents will be plying the trade from next year.

The property industry is bracing itself for a mass cull of estate agents as the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) begins operations tomorrow.

Agency bosses estimate that the current national 30,000-strong pool of agents will fall by a third to about 20,000 due to stricter standards.

The new regulations mainly involve the strict enforcement of industry exams, and are aimed at ridding the industry of errant, sub-standard agents who have tarred its reputation.

Industry watchers expect the rising number of complaints in recent years to decline as the quality of agents rises.

Agencies are expected to submit a final list of names of agents who make the cut to the CEA by midnight tomorrow.

Registration with the council will become mandatory from Jan 1.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said his firm’s agents will slide from 6,000 to about 4,000. HSR chief executive Patrick Liew said his firm will lose about half of its 7,000.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh said its number of agents will fall from 5,000 to 3,000, while ERA Asia Pacific will lose almost half of its agents, falling from 8,000 to 4,200. At OrangeTee, the 3,600 agent pool will shrink to 2,500.

The CEA was set up after legislation to regulate property agents was passed in Parliament last month. It was a milestone for the real estate sector here.

To make the cut, agents must have passed existing industry examinations. Those who have not must have brokered at least three deals in the past two years. The latter group are given more time to pass the exams.

Agents who fail to meet these criteria will be treated like new applicants who must take new courses and a stricter exam set by the CEA.

Dennis Wee’s Mr Koh said the agencies had been prepared for the new regime ‘for some time’ as a result of frequent updates from the MND.

‘The quantity of agents will go down, but at least the quality will go up, because for the first time, all agents have to pass an exam before being able to practise in the property market,’ he said.

Industry consolidation is also expected. Example, C&H Realty has merged with its sister company C&H Properties to reduce overhead costs.

‘There will be less competition in the industry now, which will be a good thing as service standards should go up,’ said C&H Realty managing director Albert Lu.

The existing Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) and Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA) will continue to operate.

Mr Ismail, who is also the IEA president, said the institute will apply to be an approved trainer to offer training for new recruits to property agencies.

SAEA chief executive Tan Tee Khoon said SAEA will continue its enhanced accreditation scheme, which will complement the Government’s mandatory licensing scheme.

Join The Discussion

Compare listings