New identification tags to curb fraudulent property sales

KUALA LUMPUR: The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (Bovea) has started an exercise to register real estate negotiators (REN) via an issue of identification tags for all negotiators employed by real estate agents. This is to curb the problem of illegal agents and cases of fraudulent property sales, according to Bovea board member Eric Lim.

He was speaking at the official launch of the identification tags for real estate negotiators on Wednesday at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here.

“Beginning June 2014, every registered negotiator is required to wear the tag during the course of doing business,” said Lim. “The tag contains a specially assigned REN number and quick response code, which can be verified against a database on any quick response code reader or mobile application. It also carries some security features to avoid imitation.”

The negotiators will be required to display their REN numbers on their name cards and all other promotional materials, including newspaper advertisements and signboards. Failure to do so is an offence and liable to disciplinary action by Bovea.

“Negotiators are only allowed to put up signboards on the property itself. Signboards hanging from lamp posts, tree trunks and directional signages are the works of illegal agents or brokers. The public is urged not to respond to these illegal promotions or any other promotional materials which do not have a REN number,” Lim warned.

Bovea in collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Agents Malaysia (MIEA), the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) and the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM) had embarked on a registration exercise since last October to help negotiators to register by attending a one-day training course.

The exercise has attracted 16,243 attendees and almost 10,000 real estate negotiators have been registered by Bovea to date. From this month, those who wish to be a registered REN will have to attend the  two-day Real Estate Negotiators Certification Course.

“Bovea has over the years received many complaints from the public. Many have been either cheated or misrepresented by brokers who act for them in property transactions. In many cases, the brokers run away with the monies or deposits collected. Those affected had limited or no recourse to claim back their monies from these brokers. Before the registration exercise, the public could not differentiate between negotiators who are employed by registered estate agency firms and illegal agents or brokers,” said Lim.

Under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estates Agents Act 1981, only registered agents and negotiators are allowed to offer for sale, rent or lease any land or buildings or invite offers for such transactions. Anyone who contravenes the Act, is liable to be fined not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisoned for not more than three years, or both, upon conviction.

The event was attended by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

“In 2013, the total transacted value of properties reached RM152 billion with over 381,130 transactions. It is estimated that 60% of the total transacted value of approximately RM91 billion was concluded by registered real estate firms and brokers who are illegal,” he said.

“It is of great concern that brokers have mushroomed in the market and this does not augur well for the protection of the general public at large. To date, there are 1,797 registered estate agents with 959 firms employing some 10,000 RENs. The government recognises that the real estate agents are professionals and they are there to protect the interest of the public at large,” said the minister.

While real estate negotiators only have to undergo a two-day course to be registered, a registered real estate agent must have completed a four-year diploma course.

Bovea will work closely with the police to go after illegal agents by submitting  evidence of such activities.

“Ultimately, we expect the number of perpetrators to decline over time as this identification system will make it difficult to impersonate as agents or negotiators. By weeding them out, the real estate market can prosper further,” said Lim.

Lim believes registration of real estate negotiators will curb fraudulent property sales.
Lim believes registration of real estate negotiators will curb fraudulent property sales.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 27, 2014.

Looking for properties to buy or rent? With >150,000 exclusive listings, including undervalued properties, from vetted Pro Agents, you can now easily find the right property on Malaysia's leading property portal EdgeProp! You can also get free past transacted data and use our proprietary Edge Reference Price tool, to make an informed purchase.