CEA is committed to working closely with the industry, through engagement and consultation, to explain our policies and regulations to facilitate better compliance, educate real estate salespersons (RESs), as well as to develop and deliver better policies.
To this end, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for National Development Tan Kiat How met with key executive officers (KEOs), RESs, and the industry associations (IAs) in a series of dialogue sessions from September 2022 to November 2022.
During his meetings with the KEOs and management staff from the large, mid-sized and small estate agents (EAs), SMS Tan reflected that the real estate agency industry had progressed well especially in the use of digital tools by RESs. However, consumers’ expectations were rising, and RESs were expected to value-add, including being more tech-savvy and employing digital tools, when helping clients to transact properties.
One concern that the industry raised was regarding RESs who did not transact for a period of time as these RESs might not have the current knowledge and expertise to serve clients professionally. This lack of practice could lead to mistakes that might adversely affect consumers and the professionalism of the industry. The EAs offered suggestions to ensure that RESs are equipped with the skills and knowledge that will stand them in good stead to better serve their clients.
The industry’s feedback on equipping RESs with the necessary skills and knowledge fits well with the work of CEA’s Project ADEPT (Advancing and Enhancing Professionalism and Training) workgroup, which is reviewing and enhancing the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) ecosystem to raise the professionalism of the industry.
In addition, the industry proposed a review of the RES course and exam syllabus to incorporate more practice-oriented questions and case studies into the RES exam, and introduce the teaching of ethics in the RES course. This would manage the expectations of new entrants to the real estate agency industry and highlight the importance of ethics in carrying out estate agency work. The EAs offered further suggestions on how the RES course and exam could focus on case studies and essential skillsets required for basic estate agency work, such as financial calculations and compliance rules.
SMS Tan also met with a group of young RESs aged 35 and below to address their concerns regarding the industry. While participants agreed that housing in Singapore remained affordable based on metrics such as the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) and Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR), some expressed concern with housing affordability for the future generations.
SMS Tan acknowledged that while such metrics were valid and logical measures of affordability, they did not take into account other intangible factors. He elaborated that while the Government considered such metrics when reviewing housing affordability for Singaporeans, public housing was not an economic or market policy, but a social policy that aimed to ensure that Singaporeans owned their own homes, need not use cash to service their mortgage loans and did not experience drastic booms and busts in the housing market. SMS Tan also pointed out that the losses incurred by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) for the construction of HDB flats reflected the subsidies that were disbursed to keep public housing affordable. SMS Tan further explained that for the Government to keep housing affordable for Singaporeans, the following had to occur: economic growth and a rise in wages for Singaporeans, a good supply of land and housing in a sustainable way and the social compact, being a core tenet, had to be maintained.
At his sessions with the IAs – the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), the Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA), and the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV) – the IAs echoed the sentiments of the EAs in managing the expectations of new entrants to the real estate agency industry. They also concurred with the suggestion of ensuring that RESs who did not transact for a period of time undergo more training to remain proficient in carrying out estate agency work so that consumer confidence and trust in the industry could be maintained.
SMS Tan also urged the RESs to take time to understand the rationale behind the various government policies such as the two rounds of property cooling measures implemented in December 2021 and September 2022, to moderate the demand for public and private residential properties, so that they could better advise their clients.
Information accurate as at 29 Dec 2022