Industry players welcome CaseTrust for real estate agencies

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 26 April 2008 2335 hrs

SINGAPORE: The consumer watchdog wants to reduce the growing number of complaints against property agents and real estate agencies. So it is developing a CaseTrust Accreditation Scheme for the industry.

This could be introduced by the middle of 2008. Estate agencies who wish to apply and attain the CaseTrust status will be subjected to a more stringent criteria.

The scheme will also raise the requirements for an individual to attain the estate agent licence.

Market players support the move and they hope that a panel of experts can be engaged to oversee any disciplinary action when rules are flouted.

Patrick Liew, CEO, HSR International Realtors, said: "There must be a very comprehensive set of ethics and conduct so that there is a basis for disciplinary process.

"And I think the process must not only come with penalty system, I hope they also come up with a reward system. In other words, for companies who do very well, they can either be issued certificates or extra points."

The CaseTrust scheme will also put in place the necessary mechanisms to settle disputes. It also aims to ensure that property agencies are accountable for the actions of their agents.

However, industry players are worried that there may be too many schemes doing exactly the same thing.

For example, the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies and Institute of Estate Agents both run their own accreditation programmes. And they will have to be streamlined to avoid duplication.

Some property agents also hope that authorities will introduce legislation to make the CaseTrust scheme compulsory.

Mohamed Ismail, CEO, PropNex, said: "It has to be 100% mandatory for all real estate agencies and agents to be accredited. If you only have 50% accredited and 50% not, a consumer is not going to see some of the properties that are being marketed by non-accredited agents, when all consumers want the best property at the best price."

Industry players said complying with the new scheme will add to business cost as there may be a need to upgrade existing infrastructure and skills of the agents. However, they do not expect the cost increase to be too significant. - CNA/vm