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REITM Focus: A blueprint for a future-ready real estate industry

Embracing innovation and leveraging technology. Strengthening professionalism and upskilling the workforce. These are the two broad strategies guiding the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map.

After more than 50 engagement sessions with the industry last year, the roadmap to transform the real estate industry to be future-ready was unveiled by Second Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee on 8 February 2018.

In launching the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM), Minister Lee said that the aim is to transform the industry so that it can continue to grow and provide good jobs for Singaporeans amidst current challenges of technological disruptions, changing consumer expectations and behaviours, and slowing manpower growth.

The ITM focuses on two areas – facilities management and property transaction services. Both sectors have been identified as having immense potential for transformation and upside.

Elaborating on the ITM’s strategies in his speech, Minister Lee said they would be along two main thrusts.

“First, both sectors must embrace innovation and technology to stay competitive, and second, both our sectors must strengthen professionalism and upskill our workforce so that we can continue to attract and retain good people and good talent,” he said.

Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee (third from right) launched the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map with industry and union leaders. (Image: JTC Corporation)

Key initiatives to take property agencies and agents forward

The aim of the Real Estate ITM initiatives for property transaction services is to offer seamless, efficient property transactions delivered by a professional, productive, and technology-enabled workforce.

Here’s a look at the details of the initiatives.

Enabling seamless property transactions

  • A Digitalised Property Transactions Workgroup comprising industry and government representatives was formed in January 2018 to move the industry towards seamless, end-to-end, efficient, and secure transactions for consumers.

    One of the workgroup’s priorities is to make it easier for the industry to access government property-related data to enable firms to automate administrative processes such as due-diligence checks.

    Examples of government data include property ownership details to verify if a seller is the legal owner of the property, or whether a potential foreign tenant has a valid pass to work in Singapore.

  • The Housing & Development Board, Singapore Land Authority, and Ministry of Manpower will progressively make available such data via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) this year. More property-related data from other government agencies will be made available in future.

  • The workgroup will develop digitalised contract templates and checklists for consumers and property agents to further streamline property transaction processes. This will be implemented by the early 2020s.
  • Outcome: Automated due diligence checks on property-related information will enable property agents to focus more of their time on higher-value work.

    The private sector can also tap on the technology enablers and tools provided by the workgroup to innovate and provide seamless services to consumers.

    At the same time, consumers can be better protected with more secure transactions.

  • HDB launched a new resale portal on 1 January 2018 to provide integration of eligibility checks and submissions on a single platform.

    Outcome: The portal offers a convenient customer experience and shortens the resale transaction process from 16 to eight weeks.

Strengthen professionalism and upskill workforce

  • CEA will work with the industry to publish property transactions closed by agents.

    • From end 2018: Publish property agents’ HDB resale transaction records
    • From end 2019: Publish property agents’ transaction records for private residential transactions

    In the longer term, CEA also plans to work with the industry to collect and publish consumer ratings of agents.

  • Outcome: This initiative is aimed at helping property agents showcase verified records of their experience and professionalism. At the same time, it will increase transparency to consumers and give them greater confidence to continue engaging agents during this time of disruption.
  • CEA worked with NTUC LearningHub to introduce a SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme contextualised for professionals in the real estate industry since January 2018. The course aims to help them remain competitive and relevant in this new environment. We are targeting for 4,000 property agents to benefit from the programme by 2020.

    Do check out the box story below for more details on this programme and how you can sign up for it!

  • CEA will deepen Key Executive Officers’ and agents’ knowledge of and skills in digitalised transaction processes and other emerging industry trends via training programmes by institutes of higher learning as well as trade associations and chambers.
  • We will also work with SkillsFuture Singapore to introduce relevant modular training programmes under the SkillsFuture series in emerging areas such as digital media and tech-enabled services.
  • CEA will complete a review of the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) framework for property agents by end 2018. The CPD framework ensures that agents upgrade themselves and keep abreast of the latest changes in policies and procedures relating to real estate transactions.
  • Outcome: The review of the CPD framework will ensure that property agents remain competitive and relevant in the changing environment, and equip them with skills to handle digitalised processes.

    The review will also include the development of a more structured approach to guide agents in achieving deeper technical knowledge and skillsets to perform duties in different segments of the property market

Share your thoughts with us!

The Real Estate ITM was co-developed by stakeholders from across the real estate value chain and the government over the past year. Stakeholders included property agencies, conveyancing lawyers, valuation firms, facility managers, property developers, and property technology firms.

The involvement and contributions of the industry and its professionals will continue to be critical as the ITM initiatives are progressively rolled out.

Minister Lee said, “Industries and associations, the ball is in our court, because the transformation is for you and your workforce. It is for you to compete effectively in Singapore and abroad, and the government will support you wholeheartedly and help to coordinate across this complex landscape.”

In a message to the real estate agency industry following the Real Estate ITM launch, CEA’s Executive Director Mr Lee Kwong Weng said, “CEA will continue to work closely with the estate agency industry on the transformation journey together…We look forward to your continued support and participation as we collectively press on together to give our property agencies and agents the best possible chance to take on the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.”

We want to hear from you. Should you have any thoughts on the Real Estate ITM, please share them with us at feedback@cea.gov.sg.

Minister Desmond Lee (third from left) encouraged the industry to proactively participate in the transformation journey and assured businesses that the government will support these efforts. (Image: Ministry of National Development)

We reached out to some real estate professionals and invited them to share their views on the Real Estate ITM initiatives and how they are gearing up for the big strides forward as the industry transforms. Find out more in our other article in this issue of CEAnergy!

CPD credit hours for SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace foundation programme

The SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme has been contextualised to include more elements that are directly related to property agents’ day-to-day work.

The CEA and NTUC LearningHub have worked together to launch a two-day SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace (SFDW) programme tailored for real estate professionals.

Property agents who attend the programme will be accorded two core and two non-core CPD credit hours.

This foundation programme aims to create awareness about how technology is changing the way we live and work, and gives a sneak peek into the possibilities of a Smart Nation. It provides an introduction to current and emerging technology and trends in the real estate industry, and gives a flavour of some relevant digital tools to help real estate professionals to be more productive and efficient.

Following participants’ feedback, CEA and NTUC LearningHub have further contextualised the programme to include more elements that are directly related to property agents’ day-to-day work.

In subsequent runs, participants can look forward to picking up bite-sized information on how technology is set to change the way business is done in the real estate industry e.g. through the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map initiatives, new apps and platforms launched by public agencies involved in property transactions, and virtual reality technologies.

Sign up information

You can register for the course and find out more about the programme at NTUC LearningHub’s website.

To help you with your learning plans, do also check out the latest SFDW course schedule. Courses with “RES” indicated in the batch ID in the last column of the table are the ones contextualised for the real estate industry. There are sessions running from April to December 2018, with more runs in August to September leading up to the annual CEA licence and registration renewal exercise.

A “very fruitful” experience

Ms Michelle Low, Sales Director at Asia Premier Property Consultants Pte Ltd, has been in the real estate agency industry for 18 years. She was among the attendees at the first run of the SFDW programme in January 2018.

Ms Low shared with us that when she came to know about the programme, she signed up immediately as she was very keen to learn about how Singapore’s vision to become a Smart Nation was applicable to the real estate industry.

“Very fruitful” – was how Ms Low described her experience at the two-day programme.  She found the segment relating to cyber security particularly informative and applicable in our daily life in a digital world.

“The session helped me very much in building a better mindset to prepare for changes happening in our future economy. Living in a digital city will be exciting and I definitely look forward to more sessions,” she said.