KUCHING: It is important for Sarawakians to only deal with Registered Estate Agents (REA), Probationary Estate Agents (PEA) or Real Estate Negotiators (REN) when it comes to protecting their interest in property transactions, advises Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) Sarawak chairperson Dato Alex Ting.
He warned it was getting easier for illegal brokers, scammers and unscrupulous parties to carry out fraudulent activities lately via the internet such as faking their identities and use fake property listings that seem too good to be true to lure unsuspecting victims to pay a deposit in securing the deal.
“As they are unregistered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers (BOVAEP), the victims are not protected and risk losing their money if they choose to deal with them,” Ting told The Borneo Post.
“Another type of scam that has been rising involved cases with fake property investment schemes. Fake property investment gurus will lure you in by promising very high returns.
“Some have also used fraudulent tactics such as using shell companies to issue fake pay slips to enable buyer to obtain finance from banks. If somethings seem too good to be true, it probably is.”
He added that any person who acts in contravention of section 22(c) commits an offence under Section 30(i) of the Act are liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
On whether there will be an increase in these cases involving illegal brokers, scammers and unscrupulous parties, Ting believed it will continue to rise .
“The Act 242 or Valuers, Appraisers, and Estate Agents Act 1981 governs estate agency practices and have strict rules and regulation in place, but without stricter enforcement, these parties will continue to exploit the loopholes in the system.
“However, I understand BOVAEP will be sending their Investigating Officers (IOs) to Sarawak in the near future to raid and arrest such illegal agents and practices.
“The MIEA has launched a public awareness campaign called #MYREALAGENTS to bring awareness and educate the public on the dangers of dealing with these parties.”
He advised the public to lodge reports with BOVAEP (via firstname.lastname@example.org or 03-22888815) and the police on any activities undertaken by illegal brokers to curb the problem.
“It is important to only deal with REAs, PEAs or RENs as they are governed by BOVAEP. They must have a REN or PEA tag at all times and the public should always verify if they are registered on http://search.lppeh.gov.my before dealing with them.
“Every advertisement must display the firm’s name and registration numbers, RENs name and registration number, telephone number etc.”
Ting also stressed that the public should never deposit money into an individual person’s account in any property transaction.
“Instead it should be deposited into a firm’s clients account where the money is protected by a professional indemnity insurance, and the firm must also report to BOVAEP annually on the client’s account.”