Thousands of poorly qualified real estate agents in Singapore set to go with introduction of new rules

Regulations for property agents in Singapore forcing companies to downsize

New regulations for property agents in Singapore that are due to come into being later this year are already having an impact with real estate agencies shedding thousands of staff.

The new rules, aimed at making the industry more professional and transparent, will mean the end of agents who have other jobs and are a step towards a requirement for all agents to have qualifications.

It will put paid to taxi drivers who also try to sell and property and also make it a full time job that requires a higher degree of professionalism as all real estate agents will need to be registered.

Real estate firms in Singapore have already axed thousands of agents who will not fit the new rules ahead of the regulatory framework being implemented by the National Development Ministry.

‘It’s going to be difficult for agents with a full time job while moonlighting as an agent. Because the moment the employer goes into this public registry, the employer will know that you are an agent, and you stand to lose your existing full time job,’ said one agent.

The new rules will create a new statutory board to be known as the Council for Estate Agencies and a rash of enhanced regulatory guidelines. A bill for the framework is expected to be introduced in Parliament in October.

Chris Koh, director of the Dennis Wee Group, said all real estate agents in the company have been briefed on the requirements of the new regulatory framework and all their details have been passed to the National Development Ministry to be part of the new central registry of all agents. He confirmed that out of 5,000 agents, some 1,500 did not come up to scratch.

Under the new guidelines, agents will also be required to pass a mandatory industry examination. Only those who already have industry certificates such as the Certified Estate Agent Course or the Common Examination for Salespersons will not have to sit a new exam.

Another real estate firm, PropNex, confirmed that some 1,200 agents are no longer working for them. Many of them were people who also had money lending licences as this was judged to be a conflict of interest.

ERA, which has about 3,000 active agents, says it has also removed hundreds of agents and associate director of ERA Asia Pacific, Eugene Lim said the company has also been conducting training to prepare their agents for the Common Examination for Salespersons.

It is estimated that there are around 30,000 real estate agents in Singapore and currently each agency has its own terms and conditions which can be confusing for buyers and sellers. Part of the new rules will mean the introduction of a standard set of rules.

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