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Estate agents plan to form national association
Agents welcome bid for greater representation, but wary of fees
By: Melissa Tan
SEVERAL major real estate agencies plan to band together to create a national industry association in a bid for greater representation, as home sales thin after multiple rounds of property curbs.
The 20 agencies behind the proposal together account for around two-thirds of the roughly 32,000 licensed real estate agents islandwide, industry sources said.
The move is backed by the two largest players, ERA and PropNex, whose agency chiefs are part of the unformed association's preliminary committee.
Individual agents said a national association would give them a platform for their views, but added that membership costs might prevent them from joining.
ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim said the association could work with the Government on issues affecting the industry.
He said a larger body would also enjoy economies of scale for training courses and membership benefits.
Remax executive director Thomas Tan said it could also replace the industry watchdog in certain areas such as mediating disputes between consumers and agents, or between one agent and another.
Agencies are regulated by the 12-member Council of Estate Agents (CEA), which the Government set up in October 2010 to raise industry standards.
Mr Chan Mun Kit, director of regulatory control at CEA, noted in a statement yesterday that there were already three industry bodies. These are the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA) and the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV).
But if a national realtors' association were formed, the CEA would "work closely with it to raise the professionalism of estate agents and real estate salespersons", he said.
IEA and SAEA both provide training courses for real estate agents, while SISV represents land surveyors, valuers and property consultants.
Real estate agent Josephine Lim told The Straits Times yesterday that a national body would be useful. "A lot of rulings come out where agents have suggestions but don't know where to go," she said.
However, she said some agents may not want to join a new association because they would have to fork out membership fees.
The planned association's preliminary committee is headed by IEA president Jeff Foo, who said it was not intended as a "rebranding" of IEA, but would be a separate entity.
He said the committee asked SAEA last month to join the planned association, but has not heard back from it.
An SAEA spokesman confirmed it had been approached, and said "the whole idea of having a national body is a good one".
However, she said SAEA was "still evaluating the terms and the agenda internally".
Mr Foo said the committee plans to finalise membership details at the end of this month.
The other agencies involved in planning the association include Huttons, OrangeTee, DTZ, Knight Frank, Savills and ECG, among others.
*****************Background Story *****************
NEW COMMON BODY COULD...
1) Give agents a platform to air their views
2) Work with the Government on issues concerning agents
3) Enable group to enjoy economies of scale for training courses and other membership benefits
4) Replace industry watchdog in areas such as mediating disputes between agents and consumers, and each other