KUALA LUMPUR 8 June: In the last two weeks, another two unscrupulous characters were caught posing as illegal agents and arrested for their misdeeds, an increasingly common occurrence that has the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) worried.
A local news portal and dailies highlighted the most recent case on June 5 identifying the suspect as a ‘property agent’, however, the man who cheated some 30 people is not a Registered Real Estate Agent (REA) nor a Certified Real Estate Negotiator (REN). The perpetrator was one of the few caught for his acts and was sentenced to 16 years in jail as well as 30 strokes for his crimes involving RM382,117.
A Registered Real Estate Agent is a person who has passed the Board’s (BOVAEA) examinations and registered with the Board whereas a REN is certified by BOVAEA and employed by a REA who is directly responsible for their conduct and actions.
Sadly, there are a large number of cases with fewer amounts of money being cheated however it goes unreported. Official complaints are also on the rise and while BOVAEA has been keeping tab on the situation and educating the public about such illegal brokers, there seems to be a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the public to be self-vigilant in dealing with illegals. Such incidents can be avoided if buyers and property owners ask simple questions and check the registration of the said practitioners.
Illegal agents or brokers have been part of the real estate fabric for many years and now they are getting bolder and have less respect for the law.
BOVAEA’s President Datuk Haji Faizan Abdul Rahman said the board is very concerned about the welfare of the public as their life savings are at risk when dealing with illegal brokers in the property market. He said the current challenging market has made it a perfect opportunity for more illegal brokers to crop up, seeking many desperate home owners to list their property while buyers depart with money to own their dream property.
REAs are bound by strict laws and under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, all monies collected are to be deposited in a client’s account and protected by professional indemnity insurance. The Board can deregister, suspend or fine the REAs if they commit an offence and report to the police in cases of cheating. This is the mechanism to protect the public at large. It is also a law that no individual can sell a property for a fee if they were not a Registered Estate Agent or working as a Real Estate Negotiator with a real estate firm.
A REA can easily be identified with their authority card and for a certified REN with their RED identity tags imbedded with a Quick Response (QR) code, so customers can scan the code with their smartphones to find out the background of his status as a REN.
“I strongly urge everyone to apply this method to ensure you are being assisted by these practitioners to avoid any complication in the sale or purchase. Do not use brokers – you are asking for trouble,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said BOVAEA and the police are collaborating to combat this problem and steps are being taken to identify and prosecute such illegal brokers. While we are doing this, we will continue to help educate the public on this matter and find a permanent long-term solution to eradicate this menace.
Members of the public have also been advised to lodge police reports if they find themselves in a similar situation and keep the Board informed of such cases.