In a recent news report by The Edge, the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) has estimated that registered real estate agents have lost as much as 40% in sales to bogus agents last year, which translates to about RM40 billion worth of property transactions carried out by ‘real estate agents’ within the last year.
According to a statement by MIEA past president Siva Shankar, the total value of property transactions in 2014 was RM162.97 billion, with 60% (approximately RM100 billion) being carried out by real estate agents. However, about 30% to 40% were estimated to be deals sealed by fake agents.
Siva, who is also a member of the The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA)’s Estate Agency Practice Committee (EAPC), is working together with BOVAEA chairman Eric Lim to safeguard the interest of its members, property owners and buyers by taking precautions and legal actions against bogus agents. The board receives about 30 – 40 complaints a month concerning illegal agents, and that is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
Anybody who is not a registered real estate agent, but poses as one to sell or lease property for a fee or commission, is breaking the law, and those found guilty could be fined RM300,000, jailed for 3 years, or both. The four main areas of illegal real estate practices include cheating, absconding with deposits, profiteering and misrepresentation. The EAPC will focus on these areas in its latest campaign to raise public awareness about proper real estate practices.
Last year, BOVAEA launched its Real Estate Negotiator (REN) tag with identification numbers for its members as proof of their identity and legitimacy as agents. These tags will have the agent’s name, agency, REN number and a scannable QR code so customers can check on the agent’s background on the spot.
An agent has to study for four years, undergo a practical period of two years, and pass an oral test before he or she can qualify as a registered BOVAEA agent.
How to make sure you are dealing with a genuine real estate agent:
- Check their REN (real estate negotiator) number or registered probation number at the LPPEH website.
- He/She is listed with a legitimate real estate agency and has a permanent office address.
- The registered estate agent’s name and signature must appear on all proposals, reports and other documentation prepared by the agent, indicating his/her status as a registered real estate agent.
- The agent is willing to listen to negotiations.
- They do not push and badger you to close a deal on a property transaction.
- Fake agents will usually ask for money up-front, usually on the pretense of collecting the deposit or agent fees. Be especially wary if they ask you to bank in money to their personal account.
- If they take your money and disappear, you’ve most likely been conned. Genuine real estate agents depend on good referrals and testimonials to succeed in the industry, so they will not risk getting a bad reputation and harming their ‘rice bowl’.
Below is an example from our Estate123 website of a registered real estate agent with his name, REN number, and agency name stated clearly: