Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

April 27, 2008

Scaled-down test to get more housing agents qualified

Filed under: General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:45 am

It aims to address view of some agents that current exam is too tough, academic

A NEW examination has been launched to encourage housing agents – the subject of rising levels of consumer complaints – to get themselves qualified.

It is more basic than an existing exam, in the hope that reluctant agents will at least get this under their belts, and perhaps try the tougher test later on.

The exam, to be run under the auspices of the existing accreditation programme, is a scaled-down version of the Common Examination for House Agents (Ceha).

This covers many topics, including business development and investments, but has been shunned by some agents for being too academic.

About a quarter of the industry is in the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA) scheme, which aims to have all agents under its umbrella pass Ceha by the year end.

However, it is facing difficulties meeting this goal.

About 300 agencies with almost 7,000 agents accredited are under the three-year-old scheme. At least 80 per cent have passed Ceha, but many agencies find it hard to hit the 100 per cent mark as the qualification is not compulsory.

Under the law, only those agents who want to set up their own property agencies have to pass Ceha, in lieu of other relevant qualifications.

But there were an estimated 30,000 agents practising under 1,717 licensed agencies at the end of last year.

SAEA board chairman Lim Lan Yuan told The Straits Times that the new exam caters to individual agents who do not wish to set up their own firms.

Existing accreditation will be tweaked to let companies continue getting a seal of quality approval if at least 60 per cent of their agents pass Ceha and the rest pass the scaled-down exam by the end of this year.

The new exam is supported by the recently formed Association of Singapore Estate Agencies. Headed by industry veteran David Ong, it aims to rally the head honchos in the industry to raise professional standards.

The industry notched up a whopping 1,113 complaints last year, a jump from 991 in 2006, according to the Consumers Association of Singapore.

Mr Ong said: ‘We need a sense of social responsibility towards the public, who depend on what we say for perhaps the biggest investment of their lives.’

The new association has drawn objections from the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), which runs a central registry for housing agents and began issuing a ‘practising certificate’ to its members last year.

In a February letter to the Straits Times Forum page, IEA president Jeff Foo said: ‘Setting up another association is a pure waste of resources, and gives the impression of a divided and fragmented industry.’

But Mr Ong stressed that the new group’s focus is different: “One is for individuals and the other is for organisations.”

Source : Straits Times – 12 Apr 2008


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