Illegal estate agents causing a real menace in Sabah – Institute

KOTA KINABALU: The illegal brokers situation in Sabah and Sarawak is worse compared to Peninsular Malaysia, said Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA)

national president Siva Shanker.

“The illegal estate agents situation in Sabah is a real menace. And, they are doing all kinds of things against the law; they don’t follow the rules, they don’t know what they are doing. Sometimes they take a deposit and run away and when people try to go after them, they can’t be located anymore. And this has been going on for a long time.

“I think the situation is worse in Sabah and Sarawak than in Peninsular Malaysia. There are a lot of illegal brokers everywhere. This is probably due to the fact that many small towns do not have a legal broker,” said Siva, when met at the Negotiators Certification Course (NCC), held at the Sabah Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

He added that the lack of education centres offering course particularly for diploma in real estate agency, also contributed to the rampant illegal brokering practice, unlike in the Peninsula.

“MIEA is working very hard to try and get more estate agents to qualify, and this would be the fourth year that MIEA conducted courses like NCC as well as the two-year diploma course at Kinabalu College,” shared Siva.

He said that while MIEA is not the only body authorised to conduct the course, as there are about seven or eight more, MIEA may have trained the most number of students in the last one year and a half, having trained over 200 people in a diploma course for real estate agency in Sabah, as well as over 1,000 people for the NCC certification.

The two-day course was attended by about 60 people, consisting of real estate negotiators as well as bankers, developers and property practitioners who had joined the course simply for better and more in-depth understanding of the laws and regulations relating to real estate practices.

Siva explained further that a course such as NCC is needed due to previous practice that does not require real estate negotiators to be licensed or tagged.

“Previously all estate agents are registered in Malaysia. In order for you to sell properties and collect the fees, you have to be a registered estate agent. Otherwise, you will be committing a crime under the Board Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, which carries a sentence of three years’ jail, or RM300,000 fine or both upon conviction.

“It wasn’t until two years ago in 2013 that the Board decided that all real estate negotiators must also be registered, and in order for them to be registered, it is made compulsory for them to attend the course,” said Siva.

Incoming president of MIEA Sabah chapter, Henry Tai, pointed out that other than the lack of existing tertiary education offering in real estate agency, poor enforcement on the government’s part is also a contributing factor for illegal brokering practices in the State.

“To date, nobody has ever been charged with such crime in Malaysia despite the thousands of cases involving such crime. So the best we can do is to educate the public and those who wish to be involved in this industry,” he said.

Henry also said that a certificate obtained through the NCC cannot be used to start a real estate firm.

Certificate holders must first register themselves with a recognised real estate firm before they can apply for licensing with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents.

“It’s important for the public to know that the NCC certificate does not qualify one to open their own real estate firm,” he stressed.

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