Over 28,700 property agents registered since new regime took effect

It has been one week since the new registration regime for estate agencies and property agents came into effect.

So far, 1,288 agency licences have been issued. Meanwhile, 28,766 agents have been registered, out of an estimated 32,800 applications received.

Observers said the rules will clean up what was previously known as a “cowboy” industry.

But some agents are unhappy as they said the process has taken far too long.

The crowd at the office of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) may have thinned somewhat, but not all the problems have been resolved.

One agent, who only wants to be known as “Gloria”, has been in and out of the office four times already.

She is upset that her application has not been processed, despite handing in the relevant forms.

She said: “I have two projects which are exclusive. One is worth about S$11 million, and the other is worth about S$3 million. I just feel very frustrated and I want to know that, if I lose these exclusive deals, do I sue CEA for it?”

One estate agency owner, who asked to be identified as Mr Leong, has also been to the office multiple times to get his approval letter.

He said: “Some of my clients know that we need to have a licence. That is why they ask me to show them the certificate. I just tell them, I am still waiting (for it), and they do not seem happy. I do not think they trust me now. I am really very frustrated.

“(CEA) should know how many agents there are in Singapore and how much manpower should be (deployed for the process).”

Some agencies have reported cases of missing forms.

CEA said that with only a team of 33 staff, mistakes are inevitable.

Yeap Soon Teck, deputy director for licensing at the Council for Estate Agencies, said: “The applications are processed by our staff, so some human error could occur. So it is possible that one or two cases could slip through.

“We are aware that the registration is very important to a lot of these salespersons and we endeavour to do it as fast as we can, to process the applications for them.”

Several hundred agents have had to resubmit their applications due to incomplete forms. CEA said it will process them within seven working days. As for those who had their applications rejected due to past criminal convictions, they have 14 days to appeal, and each case will be evaluated within two months. CEA will make a decision based on factors such as the type of offence and when it was committed.

Eugene Lim, who is associate director at ERA Asia Pacific, feels that the aim is not to penalise past offenders. He said: “CEA has demonstrated that it has given these people who were truthful and who were upfront about their disclosures…the go-ahead.”

He elaborated: “There was this agent, he had a traffic offence in the past, and he disclosed it during the submission exercises. I have another agent, he had a petty crime in the past, 30 years ago, he did not disclose this in the submission, and he was not given the approval. In short, this exercise is a first cut at testing the agents, whether they are truthful.”

CEA was formed in October as part of a shake-up of the industry. It plans to roll out public awareness initiatives on the new rules soon.Source : Channel NewsAsia – 7 Jan 2011