By Person of Interest (guest contributor)

In one of the replies to a Forum writer of The Straits Times a couple of years ago, the Council of Estate Agencies(CEA) cited that, consumers can carry out their own transactions by familiarising themselves with the property transaction process – just by looking up the relevant government agencies’ online resources and attending consumer seminars.

However, there are no stringent rules imposed on consumers transacting their own properties like there are for the real estate agencies and agents, in the name of uplifting professionalism and competency standards.

Are Consumers Competent To Transact?

How qualified are consumers to handle such transactions on their own? And how impartial are consumers who are sellers in ensuring their buyers(who are also consumers) are well protected, like how the CEA protects the latter by imposing different stringent rules on the real estate agents?

Will the seller disclose to his buyer a major crack on one of the tiles, which is covered by an exquisite Persian carpet, for example?  A professional real estate agent representing the buyer, will due to his fiduciary duty look out for unusual situations, literally looking under the carpet for any mysterious incidents.

Are Consumers Professional?

The CEA has a stringent process CEA to eliminate the ‘unfit’ and ‘undesirable’ agents, which is understandable and certainly commendable. However, the industry is taking two steps back by allowing consumers to carry out their own property transactions.

Will these consumers not replicate the ‘unfit’ and ‘undesirable’ behaviour of those disqualified agents?

Can the buyers lodge complaints to the CEA, in the event of any wrongdoings by the sellers, the same way the former would do to unprofessional agents?

Not Easy Being a Real Estate Agent

Unlike consumers who are allowed to transact their properties after consulting online resources, real estate agents have to go through examinations and take up the annual Continuing Professional Development(CPD) to obtain the relevant know-how and CPD points, and support their licence with an annual fee of about $280 in order to handle property transactions. These are just a few of the many stringent rules that the CEA imposes on the real estate agents since its inception in 2010.

Additionally, real estate agents are often perceived by the public of having an easy job with loads of commissions. The public hears of real estate agents making millions of dollars, but do not see the difficult and sometimes unpleasant process that real estate agents have to go through, in order not to ‘kill’ the deals. This takes skill, experience, patience and flexibility.

The Big Boys

The real estate agencies are the key representatives of their armies of agents. The latter should look to them to exercise whatever ‘power’ or ‘influence’ they possess to lobby the CEA hard to consider prohibiting consumers from carrying out their own transactions, among other incomprehensible rules.

This is far more important than pestering the Government to ease the cooling measures, which is premature to even think about.

By guest contributor Person of Interest, a Service Excellence Advocate and an avid Forum writer.

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