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DON’T GET CONNED

Check with BOVAEA when you have doubts

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I was looking for a subsale property, a corner lot bungalow in an upscale neighbourhood situated in a pristine location to stay. During a drive-by in the neighbourhood, I decided to call the negotiator’s number listed on the subsale property that I am interested. The agent promised to get the subsale property for me at 30% below market value, the offer sounded so good and personally I find it hard to resist”, said Mr. See*. What he didn’t realise was the negotiator who also claimed to be a Real Estate Agent was never registered with The Board of Valuers, Appraisers & Estate Agents, Malaysia (BOVAEA).

Three days later, the same negotiator came back to meet him with a stack of documents in black and white stating he has obtained the necessary approval such as land title check to purchase the subsale, everything appear to be in order, but before Mr. See could probe further, the negotiator requested Mr. See to pay for his commission upfront to help speed up the process of getting the subsale property.

Mr. See said, “At first I didn’t believe him but he showed me a name card and told me the company he is working for is one of the big four reputable companies with more than 1,000 negotiators in the real estate industry in Malaysia, the logo printed at the back of the card indicated an overseas presence.”

After much persuasion from the negotiator, Mr. See took the risk and paid the fee requested by the negotiator as he really liked the bungalow. “He promised to get back to me in two days time, for me to sign the SPA agreement. He mentioned the owner has agreed with the property pricing that was below market value. Three days later, and he still did not get back to me, I lodged a police report immediately when I realised he was no longer reachable via his cell phone,” said Mr. See. A check on the web later found the company website domain was expired and no longer in existence.

According to the President of The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA), Sr. Faizan B. Abdul Rahman, “Rogue negotiators and real estate agent are those negotiators and estate agents who fail to comply with the Act, Rule and Standards set by the Board. For the purpose of preventing public confusion, we will use the term broker and illegal agents instead.

“BOVAEA do not have the actual statistics of these brokers or illegal agents. Currently, we have a total of 2,455 estate agents and 14,159 negotiators and 1,004 valuers who are registered with the Board,” stated the president.

According to Faizan, there are some common or not-so-common tactics used by broker and illegal agents in performing their daily unlawful activities. “Illegal agents mark up the sales price of a particular piece of property beyond the price quoted by the seller.”

Another particular concern of the industry is the misinformation or the misrepresentation of the property and basically this would refer to unethical practices that leads to cases like frauds and cheating where what has been communicated between the negotiators to the buyers and the sellers are not accurate. There are also brokers or illegal agents, who absconded the earnest deposit paid by the buyers and leave without a trace causing losses to buyers.

Within the property industry, there were hearsays that mentioned more than 7,000 negotiators were recruited by a real estate firm that was registered with the board and these people are no longer from the uneducated or bottom rung of life, many of them were actually professionals that comprised of lawyers, bankers and even property investors, to which Faizan reiterates that this were only rumours or market talk. He stated, “The Board will take stern action against any registered firm if they are found to engage negotiators without having registered with the board. On other firm/s which are not registered with them and carrying out the activities of an estate agency practice, BOVAEA will issue warning letter to cease and desist failing which a report will be made to the police with the commercial crime division. The public are urged to only deal with negotiators registered with the Board where every negotiators are given a specific Real Estate Negotiator (REN) number and a REN tag.”

“We have a specific law to prosecute brokers and illegal agents, under section 30 of the Act (Valuers, Appraiser and Estate Agents Act 1981), anyone who commits an offence under the Act is liable for a fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both,” emphasised Faizan. However he admits that the law passed by the parliament is far from perfect, “illegals brokers and agents are getting smarter these days and they know how to circumvent the law through the available loopholes, which make it harder for the police from the commercial crime division to arrest them.”

The president enthuses that presently they are working closely with the police to understand the loopholes in the act, amending and passing it in the parliament so that through the Act, it will make it clearer for the police to institute prosecution thoroughly.

“Now is true that the public can send their complaints regarding illegal agents and brokers, but currently the board only has four enforcement officers to cover for the whole country, BOVAEA is currently addressing this issue and is in the process to hire additional officers,” said the president.

“The public, particularly the home buyers and home sellers play a vital role in helping to reduce or to the extent to eliminate the brokers and illegal agents, but firstly the public needs to be inform of their right and because of this BOVAEA has embarked on an awareness campaign that covers both online and offline publicity channel that cost about close to RM1 million in year 2014,” mentioned Faizan excitingly. He stated that BOVAEA has allocated a further sum of RM500,000 this year to enhance the campaign. Some of the advertising channels or touch points included outdoor billboard, taxi boot lid, digital banner along the Federal Highway, flyers, radio advertisement, granting press interview and also in the multimedia section.

According to the president, one of the success stories about this campaign was being able to raise public awareness on how to differentiate between a registered negotiator and a broker or an illegal agents, One example is the introduction of the Real Estate Negotiator (REN) tag, home buyers would also know they may check BOVAEA’s website (www.lppeh.gov.my) to ascertain the negotiator’s and the firm’s registration status with the board. “As a result, brokers or illegal agents are being marginalised and being questions by their clients. They found difficulty dealing with them without the REN Tag and REN No. Many have started to attend the 2 days course and getting themselves registered with the board via their real estate firm. The board has constantly receiving large number of fresh applications.” Enthuses Faizan.

Faizan’s mentioned that his goal for BOVAEA is to raise public awareness not just within Klang Valley but all around the country within a period of a year. He wishes to raise confidence among its members by making sure that all complaints file to the board are dealt immediately.

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