Published November 27, 2012

Real estate no longer a cowboy industry: Khaw

By Mindy Tan

THE transformation of the real estate sector has begun, and what used to be regarded as a "cowboy" industry is now more professional, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has said.

In a post in his blog "Housing Matters", he wrote that the industry now has "a more systematic and professional process of proper registration of salespersons and licensing of estate agents".

He also noted that complaints had been filed in only one per cent of the more than 100,000 property transactions each year.

His positive comments came with the release of the results of the inaugural public perception survey of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), which marked its second anniversary last month.

The survey found that eight in 10 consumers were satisfied with the conduct and services of the agent handling the sale, purchase or rental of their property.

A further seven in 10 said they would recommend their salesperson to others.

But while most consumers found their salespersons contactable, responsive to queries and courteous, their knowledge of the real estate sector apparently fell short.

Specifically, consumers said they wanted their salespersons to be able to give advice on financial matters related to the transaction, and accurate, up-to-date information related to the property and the property market.

Awareness of key industry practices and regulations among consumers was generally high, averaging 72 per cent; the awareness level among potential consumers averaged 59 per cent.

Of the 2,260 consumers and potential consumers interviewed between March and July, more resale consumers (87 per cent) were satisfied with their salespersons than rental consumers (75 per cent).

Separately, an online survey among key executive officers (KEOs) and salespersons was carried out.

It found that 80 per cent of KEOs and salespersons indicated that the regulatory measures and enforcement of minimum eligibility criteria for salespersons had raised the professionalism of the industry; 91 per cent said the training, including the mandatory Continuing Professional Development courses they received, were useful in raising their professionalism.

Calling these trends a good start to the transformation of the industry, Mr Khaw urged salespersons to embrace continuous learning to stay relevant and to bring value to their clients.