8 in 10 happy with property agents

PHOTO: 8 in 10 happy with property agents

SINGAPORE - Eight in 10 customers are happy with the services provided by their real-estate agent, according to a survey by industry regulator Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

The findings of the survey - which polled 2,260 customers and potential customers earlier this year - drew National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan to say on his blog on Monday that the CEA "has fared not too badly" in its two years of operation.

"What used to be regarded almost as a 'cowboy' industry is now characterised by a more systematic and professional process of proper registration of salespersons and licensing of estate agents by the CEA," he added.

There are about 32,000 property agents attached to about 1,500 firms now.

He noted that out of the more than 100,000 property transactions each year, complaints with CEA made up about 1 per cent of the cases.

The findings from the inaugural Public Perception Survey, released on Monday by CEA, also found that seven in 10 respondents planned to recommend their agents to others. Some 87 per cent of consumers in resale deals were satisfied with the work put in, compared to 75 per cent of rental cases.

Respondents were most happy with agents who provided copies of signed documents and who were responsive and courteous.

Their chief bugbears? When agents were not able to provide financial advice or accurate and updated information on the property, and when they were not transparent on the latest developments in the transaction.

The agency also conducted an online survey among industry players to garner feedback.

Of the 1,684 property agents and bosses polled, eight in 10 said the stepped-up eligibility criteria to practise have raised standards, though they noted that more could be done to educate consumers.

More than 90 per cent also support the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme, which requires agents to undertake six hours of training a year in order to retain their licence.

Mr Chan Mun Kit, CEA's director of regulatory control, said the findings will enable it to better plan policies and initiatives. Plans are in the works to expand CPD courses to focus on subjects such as financial matters.

Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) executive director Seah Seng Choon said the CEA has done well since it started operations. So far this year, Case has received 386 complaints about real-estate matters such as commission disputes, compared to an average of 1,400 a year in the past.

"Putting out standard agreement forms for people to follow, for example, helps protect consumer interests," he noted.

Mr Khaw said: "All in all, this is a good start. But the real- estate industry is a dynamic one. Salespersons would need to embrace continuous learning to stay relevant and bring value to their clients."