Published September 28, 2006

Weeding out unethical property agents

THE Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) yesterday launched a scheme to accredit agents in an effort to weed out unethical operators. The IEA's Central Registration Scheme (CRS) allows customers looking to hire an estate agent to log on to IEA's website - - to check if the agent is working for the agency he claims to be from.

IEA council president Jeff Foo said the institute's council is concerned by a decline in membership and a growing number of complaints against real estate agents in general. 'The council decided that IEA should take a more pro-active move to educate consumers to engage agents who are members of IEA,' Mr Foo said.

With CRS, agents claiming to work for agencies that have no knowledge of them, and agents working for two agencies at the same time, can be weeded out. 'Consumers can now simply - with a click of the mouse - identify and verify if the agent they are purportedly working with is a bona fide agent and is attached to the agency that he/she claims to be from,' Mr Foo said. 'Hopefully over time, the authorities will give us their blessing, and perhaps a little nudge too, to make it mandatory for all real estate agencies to register in this public register.'

Right now, a total of more than 12,100 real estate agents - including thousands from most of the major agencies - are in the IEA's CRS database, and the number is expected to keep growing. Guesstimates put the number of property agents operating in Singapore at around 20,000.