Sunday July 22, 2007

Estate agents seeking action against illegal ones


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) is puzzled why no unlicensed real estate agent has been brought to court despite 20 police reports lodged so far.

MIEA president K. Soma Sundram claimed that there were more than 10,000 unlicensed agents and they were hurting the industry image.

Soma Sundram said there were about 1,500 active legitimate estate agents at present and 10,000 genuine real estate negotiators in the country.

“Unlicensed agents hurt the image and professionalism of the industry while posing a threat to the public because there will be no legal recourse if something goes wrong.”

Soma Sundram told a press conference yesterday that unlike registered estate agents, unlicensed agents would not maintain clients’ accounts or have professional indemnity.

“They may charge a lower service fee, but they will sell a property for more than the price agreed to by the seller and pocket the difference.

“Most of these agents are housewives. Even expatriate housewives are getting into the business,” he claimed.

Soma Sundram also alleged that retired or inactive registered estate agents were leasing out certificates to unlicensed agents.

“This is so the illegal agents will appear to be operating legitimately. We will take action as we know who these people are.”

MIEA has sent two letters to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi detailing the problems of unlicensed agents and seeking the Government’s help.

On how the public could identify whether an estate agent was legitimate or not, Soma Sundram said there were a number of ways that include ensuring the agent has a physical office and advertisements carry office telephone numbers and the firm’s “E-number” to show that the firm was registered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents.