Watchdog getting tough on errant estate agents
CEA plans firmer disciplinary action, better client outreach
By: Cheryl Ong
THE Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) plans to beef up investigations into errant agents and reach out to consumers, as it moves into its second year of operation.
The regulatory body for property agents and companies held a media event yesterday, where it summed up its first year in operation and highlighted its plans for the next year.
Executive director Chionh Chye Khye said the CEA's initial light-touch policy will give way to more investigations, and agents found guilty of breaking the rules will be prosecuted.
'Going forward, we will be taking firmer disciplinary action against errant estate agents and sales staff through our disciplinary committees. Penalties would include warnings, fines, revocation or suspension. Court prosecution may also be undertaken for serious cases,' he said.
People buying or selling property will also receive more information on the role of agents and consumers' responsibilities with a new consumer guide that the CEA will launch later this year.
There will also be regular newsletters uploaded on the CEA website, as well as mobile-phone applications to educate the public on the new regulations.
On Oct18, an inaugural seminar will be held for estate agencies to 'learn and network', said Mr Chionh.
The council was set up to raise the standards and professionalism of property agents in an industry that went largely unregulated for decades, and to help consumers seek redress from errant agents.
It has registered more than 33,000 property agents and licensed 1,535 agencies, and has made their registration information available on an online database for the public to access.
In June, the first person was charged in court for working as an unregistered property agent.
About 100 so-called letters of advice, which do not show up on the public register, have been sent out to agents whose clients lodged complaints of poor service against them.
Last month, the CEA put in place rules aimed at stopping misleading advertising claims, in an effort to put an end to exaggerated claims in fliers that property agents frequently distribute.
House-hunter Vijay Tatineni, 31, said the guide books will be helpful for consumers like him who are in the market but are wary of property agents.
'It's good that we have some information about the regulations to protect us,' said the IT consultant, who has been looking for a home for two weeks.
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