KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 22): The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) is concerned about “misrepresentation” in press reports about real estate agents cheating clients, saying that by law, the term "real estate agent” refers to someone who possess certain qualifications.
To be called a real estate agent, someone must have passed Part 1 and 2 of the real estate exams over a minimum period of two years, undergone post practical training for an additional two years, and sit for a test of professional competence to be registered by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers (BOVEAP), MIEA said in a statement today.
Pointing to three articles published in local dailies over the last 30 days, its president Lim Boon Ping said: "While we are concerned about the number of scams that are increasingly taking place, we as an institute representing the 25,000 real estate practitioners across Malaysia, are concerned about the misrepresentation made in recent press reports that real estate agents are cheating clients as in the three cases (reported). These are inaccurate statements.”
He said to unilaterally say a real estate agent did something fraudulent was a serious matter and it must be established whether the person was truly a "registered agent” or an “illegal broker”.
"Illegal brokers are out there for quick profits and they are neither trained nor recognised nor authorised to do any real estate transaction.
“Any misrepresentation of the term (real estate agents) may cause confusion and distrust, and bring disrepute to the image of the real estate profession,” he said.
The public is advised to use the services of a registered estate agent (REA), probationary estate agent (PEA) or real estate negotiator (REN).
MIEA said it encouraged Malaysians to seek its assistance to verify whether the person they were dealing with was legally an agent.
"The number of complaints received by MIEA has increased by 30% during the Movement Control Order (MCO) and Recovery MCO (RMCO) period, but there are people who are willing to risk their life savings or go into financial ruin by placing their trust in those who are not authorised or certified by law to carry out real estate transactions," Lim said.
MIEA has identified 13 ways the public can be scammed via www.myrealagents.com.
Lim said while there might be a small number of delinquents in the profession, a significant majority of agents and negotiators adhered to a high standard of practice.
"Any misdoings by a real estate agent or certified negotiators can be addressed to the real estate firm that employs them or to BOVEA to remedy the situation," he said.
To safeguard the public’s interest, MIEA launched a public awareness campaign called #MYREALAGENTS earlier this year, aimed at being a free resource to share advice and information on how to best use the services of an REA or REN, the common types of property pitfalls and the dangers of using illegal brokers.
MIEA also cited Act 242 or Valuers, Appraisers, and Estate Agents Act 1981, which states that illegal brokers who engage in property transactions can, if convicted, be fined not exceeding RM300,000, or imprisonment for a term, not more than three years, or both.
A further penalty of RM1,000 for each day during the continuance of such offence will also be imposed. This provision also applies to any person who aids and abets in the commission of the offence.
MIEA also advised Malaysians to be wary if a property deal sounded too good to be true.