Syndicates posing as estate agents on the loose
KUALA LUMPUR : An estimated 50,000 illegal real estate brokers are duping innocent Malaysians into parting with their hard earned money.
These unscrupulous characters impersonate property investors, developers’ representatives, community leaders, unregistered salespersons, foreigners and even housewives to earn quick cash every day.
The latest case occurred last week when a certified Negotiator discovered his photograph was printed on name cards under several different companies that were distributed to unsuspecting shop lot owners. Their clients were duped into paying the fees for the necessary rental and sales deposits.
As the regulatory body, the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) is worried the number of cases will increase if the problem is not addressed soon.
BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee (EAPC) chairman Mr. Eric Lim Chin Heng, said they were shocked at the apathy shown by property owners on determining the authenticity of the people representing them. BOVAEA stressed that estate agency practice comes under a parliament act and the practice is regulated by law.
“Anyone who is not a registered estate agent or is not a certified real estate negotiator is breaking the law. More importantly anyone using the services of anyone who claim to be agents without the authority to practice is not protected by law,”
An agent is registered after 4 years of exams and training while a negotiator works for an agent and must attend a two day course and be certified by the board. They are given a REN tag and an identification number. Lim said they have certified 16, 000 Real Estate Negotiators in the last 2 years.
“We are afraid the number of cases will increase with desperate property owners trying to cope with the slowdown in the property market,” he added.
Lim advised potential property buyers or sellers to check the tags instead of relying on the name cards alone to avoid being at the losing end.
“There is a Quick Response (QR) code on each tag so customers can scan the code with their smartphones to find out the background of the agent, the firm they represent, their REN No and their identity,” he added.
Simple acts like these he said could help ensure a safer property market experience for everybody.
The Board’s EAPC Chairman said that the methods used are simple most of the time. He said it was sad to see so many people losing money and getting into legal entanglement because they did not ask for the tag.
“They are not bothered to check on these things even though they are selling and buying properties valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their modus operandi includes cheating, misrepresentation, profiteering while a large number abscond with the deposits,” he said.
“Illegal brokers are ordinary people out to make a quick buck without understanding his or her duty to a client or knowledge relating to property.
It is best to protect yourself and your investment by following the philosophy that ‘prevention is better than cure,” he added
Lim said the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act states that those who abet an illegal agent can also be fined RM300,000 or face three years imprisonment or both. To help curb the problem, the board will be working with the relevant government agencies to trace and bring these criminals to justice.
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