We’ve been talking about the property industry and its ins and outs over the past few months. Today, I’d like to touch on the heart and soul of this industry, the people that drive it forward on a daily basis – Real Estate Agents.
Real Estate Agents by their legal terminology can be categorized as follows:
Registered Real Estate Negotiators (REN) are legitimate real estate salespersons performing their duties serving clients in property transactions;
Probationary Estate Agent (PEA) are awaiting to obtain their license to be a licensed Real Estate Agent pending fulfilling certain criteria set by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BOVAEA);
Registered Real Estate Agent (REA) are licensed practitioners who can supervise the conduct of RENs and every REN is registered under a REA, who can have up to 20 RENs under his/her license.
When you think about it, RENs really are the face of the industry. For many, they are often the first and most consistent interface to property investment. What perplexes me is that this function has been somewhat trivialized by most house buyers and house owners where very little research is done on the background of RENs and the agencies they work for when RENs represent so much of their interests.
Are real estate agents a double edged sword?
The importance of engaging the right REN to facilitate the sale or purchase of a property cannot be undermined. The fact is that every piece of real estate costs on average between RM300,000 to RM15,000,000 for residential properties in the Klang Valley. This is substantial when compared to the per capita income of our nation of RM34,000 per annum.
Having been on both sides of the fence, let me share the key factors in appointing the right REN to ensure that it is not double-edged but a gilt-edged play instead.
1. Master Distributor Approach
Take for example Toyota has appointed a master distributor that subsequently appoints dealers to market its products in Malaysia and as for Apple Inc, they have appointed a few premium dealers/resellers to market its products here.
You would imagine the stringent process the brand owner undertakes to ensure that their brand and product is being represented by the right party. Getting this part wrong could be a very costly mistake.
In terms of real estate, RENs represent your property in the same regard but how often have we been guilty of the following:
a) Dealing with unknown individuals who cold-call you;
b) Not verifying or visiting the real estate agency in question;
c) No formal meeting with the REN; not presented to on why they should be appointed and what is their main difference between them and others;
d) Did not research who are the top RENs, upcoming RENs and dynamic new RENs.
Of course there could be more but what is important here is to have your own shortlisting process complete with a set of criteria to uncover the gems. Now, this process may take some time and effort but I feel that it will be your greatest investment for your assets.
2. Essential REN Traits
a) Professionalism – possess values that meets and exceeds your expectations (appearance, conduct, attitude and etc);
b) Competency – possess micro and macro knowledge about the property by providing relevant market research and analysis including product and price comparisons;
c) Integrity – a REN with references, communicates openly and has your interests at heart;
d) Dynamism and Innovation – this will give you an idea how ‘out of the box’ thinking the REN may possess in making things happen. The REN must be able to present a suitable strategy and have the means to execute it;
e) Tenacity – this is another important aspect as the purchase and sale of a property can be a complex one and the ability to weather the challenges to come out on top is key;
f) Track Record – the track record of the REN and the real estate agency is always a good yardstick for you to gauge future performance and what you can expect;
g) BOVAEA registered – Kudos to the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents on their introduction of REN registration whereby every REN must possess a tag to verify their professional standing in the industry. This could be your very first step to ensure that you are represented by a legitimate party in the eyes of the law;
h) Professional development of the REN – asking and knowing the REN’s current and future plans to improve further is also a good indication of how committed and serious one could be.
The above are just some examples but looking through it, don’t you think such an important role warrants proper screening and evaluation before you finally open the window of opportunity?
3. Proper Screening
Going through the checklists above, I know you might be thinking it is nigh on impossible to find the right RENs who possesses such traits and tick all the boxes. I strongly believe that we should place a very high importance on the quality of the RENs we choose to represent us. After all, we scrutinize the properties that we buy meticulously, why not our representatives?
It is my humble belief that being represented right will bring huge benefits and much better opportunities including peace of mind, savings from a speedier sale/purchase process, negotiations that maximize your returns and the comfort and assurance from the knowledge that you have someone looking after your interests well.
The right REN can help maximize your returns by getting the right price within the right timeline that meets your needs.
In choosing the right REN, remember to do your homework as the end result depends on this first step you make. RENs with the right stuff are after all ambassadors for the real estate industry and with them lay our hopes for a better real estate community going forward.Conversely, getting the wrong kinds of RENs can result in wasted time and effort, lost opportunities, mismatched solutions or even incidences where your property is used to promote others’.
Article is written by Christopher Lim, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Property Hub Sdn Bhd, MIEA Residential Agency of the Year 2012 and 2013. Log on to www.propertyhub.com.my for more information. The article represents his personal views.