by Firdaus Musa
For the past few years, the real estate agency profession has been hurdled by the spate of illegal brokers, illegal signboards and non-professional methods. These practices not only hurt the professional real estate agents registered under the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Real Estate Agents but become a widespread epidemic which leave the public in a quandary when fraud and misrepresentation occur. The owners of property when selling or renting have two choices of dealing, either do it by themselves or engage a registered real estate agent. The ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) methodology is commendable as being the owners, you they have intimate knowledge of the property. Nevertheless, there are pitfalls especially when property values and asking prices are a concern and negotiations with potentials may be to the point of frustration or emotional. In all instances, they either asking too high a price or may sell at way below market value.
The owners may also try his luck in engaging illegal brokers as they feel it would be cheaper and the illegal brokers seemed to have more ways than one in getting the sale or rental done. What some may not know, the illegal brokers normally work on a mark-up basis which has always been at the owners’ detriment as the owners are not maximising the value of the property. Even if they work on the normal percentages, chances of the earnest money being squandered or ‘under table’ money situations may occur without the owners’ knowledge or consent.
Under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act, 1981 Section 22c, No person shall unless he is a registered estate agent and has been issued with an authority to practice – Practice or take up employment under any name, style or title containing the words “Estate Agent”, “House Agent”, “Property Agent”, “Land Agent”, “House Broker” in any language which may reasonably be construed to imply that he is a registered estate agent or that he is engaged in estate agency practice. Display any signboard/poster or distribute, circulate any card letter, pamphlet, leaflet, notice or any form of advertisement. Under Section 30(1),
Any person who acts in contravention of Section 22c or aids and abets in the commission of an offence under this Act, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both and he shall be liable to a further penalty of one thousand ringgit for each day during the continuance of such offence. The best way in selling or renting a property is to engage a Real Estate Agent which is registered under the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents. Under the Real Estate Agent will be the Real Estate Negotiators which are in the field doing the viewing, listing and negotiating.
DETERMINING THE VALIDITY OF AGENTS & NEGOTIATORS
A real estate agent practicing will always be attached to a real estate agency company of either owned or working with. The real estate agent is governed by the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 which states the conduct of the real estate agent. He is also bound by the Real Estate Agents Rules 1986 and the Malaysian Real Estate Agency Standards of which all acts in procuring and securing transactions are well regulated. Of most importantly, the paperwork and paper trails of a transactions and rentals are well documented in a proper office registered with the Board, having a fiduciary duty to his clients on monies in escrow or in trust and maintain a clients’ account being audited by the Board. Under his wing, depending on his strength, he engages Real Estate Negotiators to further assist him in increasing volumes of transactions and rentals. A good real estate agent trains, manages and control the Real Estate Negotiator to be professional in dealings with clients, having proper procedures and documentation in listing of properties and closing transactions with good rapport with other Real Estate Negotiators having co-agency work.
Most importantly, the Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Negotiators are accountable for any misdemeanors based upon complaints by the public to the Board and are subject to fines, suspension and cancellation of the registration. When engaging a Real Estate Agent, ensure that he is a legitimate registered real estate agent by checking the registered number, which normally starts with E followed by number digits. A Real Estate Agent will have an “Authority to Practice Card” stating the ‘E’ number, his photo and year valid. Ensure that the real estate agent has a registered real estate agency company with ‘E’ or ‘VE’ (if the company is a valuation company) followed by number digits. Similarly with Real Estate Negotiator, he will have a REN number and at all times will wear a Board of Valuers Tag stating the REN number, the company he is working and a photo of himself. There are currently about 2,000 active real estate agents and close to 20,000 real estate negotatiors registered with the Board.
To ensure authenticity of cards or tags, it is also advisable to browse through the Board of Valuers website at: www.lppeh.gov.my for verification of the Real Estate Agent, the Company and the Real Estate Negotiator. It is also advisable to browse: www.propertyagent.gov.my, a sister website by the Board explaining ways to protect the public when engaging in property transactions.
DEALING WITH A REAL ESTATE NEGOTIATOR
A Real Estate Negotiator acts as an assistant to the registered real estate agent in which one is on the field, looking for leads, gather property listings, marketing the property, viewing of property with prospective negotiating and closing of deals with proper documentation and earnest deposit collected. One has to have gone for the 2-day Real Estate Negotiator Course as prescribed by the Board. The course however by no means stating that the real estate negotiator is an expert but to give the real estate negotiator a full understanding of the real estate agency profession.
From the certificate that one received from the attendance of the course, one has to be registered with a real estate agency company under the supervision of a registered real estate agent in which one will received a real estate agency tag. The certificate DOES NOT MEAN that one is certified to do the real estate agency work in any way one’s own or having an office. It is also an utmost importance to check the TAG and ensure that it is the Board of Valuers tag and not similar tags produced. The QR CODE on the tag lets the public check and verify the information on the tag with the Board’s website.
In conducting the real estate agency work, the real estate negotiator is compelled to act in accordance to the Malaysian Estate Agency Standards (MEAS) and governed by the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act and Estate Agents Rules. Apart from the Real Estate Negotiators, there are the Probationary Estate Agents and Probationary Valuers. These are the ones that are undergoing training for the registration to be the Registered Real Estate Agent and are able to act on behalf of the real estate agent.
In monitoring the real estate agency practice, the Board had specifically sent circulars reminding the real estate agents on the recent new practices required. This is specifically on the signboards or banners as well as the advertisements in which the Real Estate Negotiators must put his REN number. The public is advised to check on the REN numbers to verify the existence of the real estate negotiator and the company that one is working in. This ensures that the public will only be served by the registered real estate agents or real estate negotiators and minimise any fraud or misrepresentation by non-registered persons or illegal brokers. Should there be complaints on the registered real estate agents or the real estate negotiators, the public can approach the Board and submit formal complaints for action to be taken.
TACKLING THE SCOURGE OF ILLEGAL BROKERS
In the past few years, there have been a spate of illegal brokers mushrooming throughout the country. This is due to the notion of anybody can sell or rent properties without any formal training. Nevertheless, there are repercussions as stated above which are normally being left unheeded and no actions being taken.
In tackling the illegals, the actions taken are to nip the menace by the bud. The Board has made various efforts in engaging with the local authorities especially in removing illegal signboards put up on the trees, traffic lights, lampposts and other public places. Apart from this, the mobile phone numbers on the signboards are sent to MCMC (Malaysia Communications & Multimedia Commission) for action. Property websites which are selling or renting properties and are not registered real estate agents or companies are also being submitted to MCMC. MCMC has the powers based on the Act to suspend or bar the hand-phone numbers and block the websites from going online as well as impose fines on the wrongdoers.
Recently, from the meetings by the Board of Valuers with the Attorney General and the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department, the police are aware of the Section 30(1) as stated above and monitoring on the activities of illegal brokers profiteering from property transactions. It is expected that there will be arrests and fines by the police and court based on this Section for those who are practising selling and renting of properties without proper registration from the Board.
THE FUTURE OF MALAYSIAN REAL ESTATE AGENCY
The beginning of 2016 indicates a new era of real estate agency profession where training after training, courses after courses and more aggressive marketing strategies adopted by real estate agents and real estate negotiators through social media are evident in the market. The profession is being recognised as a service with integrity, systematic and professionalism with more and more acceptance of using the services by the public. More and more advertisements have been channeled out to the public on the real estate agency work by the registrants and with the new efforts by the police and the local authorities, it is hoped that the conduct of illegal brokers would be forever ceased.
Sr. Firdaus Musa serves as the Managing Director and senior partner of Firdaus & Associates Property Professionals overlooking the general management of the firm. He is also responsible for developing and over-seeing the strategic direction and operating priorities of the firm. Under his leadership, Firdaus & Associates Property Professionals has grown from a small niche outfit into a multi-faceted property consulting services. Prior to founding the firm, he has served in Knight Frank where he attains his registration and professional certification. Sr. Firdaus earned his Bachelor’s degree with Honours in Urban Estate Management from Kingston University, London, England and a full-fledged Registered Valuer and Real Estate Agent with over 25 years of working experience in the property industry.
Sr. Firdaus Musa
amp frism mrics mpeps mmiea mmippm mfiabci
Managing Director ,
Firdaus & Associates Property Professionals
He is a professional fellow member of the Royal Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia (RISM) since 1995 and recognised as a Surveyor (Sr.) in the profession, a member of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London (RICS) since 1990, a founding member of Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers (MIPPM), a member of Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) and a member of the Federation of International Real Estate (FIABCI). He received Royal Order of Crown member of Pahang (amp) from the Sultan of Pahang in 2007.
He serves in the Property Management, Estate Agent and Valuation Surveyor Division in RISM since 2005 with current post os the Vice Chairman, , a committee member in Estate Agency Practice Committee of the Board of Valuers, committee member for Education and Curriculum, Jabatan Penilaian dan Perkhidmatan Harta (JPPH), committee member of International measurement standards in RICS, past committee member in MIPPM, past Vice-President of Bumiputra Real Estate Association, past evaluator in FIABCI and speaker in various talks and seminars pertaining to valuation, real estate agency and property management.