A well accomplished professional with over 20 years in the industry, Eric spoke passionately about his plans for MIEA moving forward as well as steps they will be taking to address its perennial problem of illegal agents. We began our interview by getting to know Eric.
Please Do Tell Us About Yourself.
I have the honour of just being elected as the President of MIEA. My term started at the end of April, prior to which I was the institution’s Deputy President. I have been actively serving as part of MIEA Council of Management for the last 14 years. My participation in the industry which I view very much as being national service began in the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) (2007 – 2016). Besides being a Board member, I was part of its EXCO Committee and Chairman of the Estate Agents Practice Committee (EAPC).
One of our key achievements amongst the many initiatives bringing improvements to the industry was the registration of negotiators. In 2014, we secured the Board’s approval and subsequently developed and conducted the necessary accreditation courses for negotiators and the implementation of the REN tag exercise. Today we have more than 23,000 registered negotiators.
After more than 20 years in the industry, I was awarded the Real Estate Agent of the Year in 2014 by MIEA in the annual National Real Estate Awards.
My current full-time role is as the founder and Managing Director of Hartamas Real Estate Group.
What do you aim to achieve in your presidency term?
I see collaboration with other professional bodies such as BOVAEA and relevant industry leaders as vital to MIEA’s effectiveness, so in the coming months we will be working closely with these bodies to enhance our role. We will also take the opportunity to engage with over 23,000 registered negotiators as well as registered agents to increase their awareness of the benefits of an MIEA membership.
One of the issues plaguing the industry is that our practitioners are affected by illegal agents who don’t abide by the laws. Unfortunately, we do not possess the authority to commence any action against illegal agents and so my plan is to work closely with the police on this matter. An early initiative with the police force and AG Chambers have already commenced and I will endeavour to push it further in curbing the illegal agents’ activities.
We are also looking at increasing our regional footprint through our membership with ARENA (Asean Real Estate Network Alliance). We are part of an 8-ASEAN country membership excluding only Brunei and Laos. We are organizing a convention/ exhibition that will take place in August this year that will form an ideal platform to showcase our property products in these member countries. It will also expand and extend market opportunities for our members. The final part is to increase the association’s membership. To date, there are about 2,000 registered estate agents and 23,000 real estate negotiators (REN) registered with BOVAEA. Hence, I want to engage both real estate agents and REN to join the membership of MIEA.
What is in the pipeline in terms of training and special programmes for agents?
We certainly want to upgrade the professionalism of our agents and are looking at enhancing their personal development by offering courses and seminars to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills. This will boost the public’s confidence in their ability to deliver. We are identifying strategic measures to increase business opportunities given the challenging market conditions. We will continue to work in closer partnership with developers to extend our reach. I have also much concern for many of our senior colleagues with small practices and hope to continue to offer them the assistance they need to optimise their relevancy even in this digital age.
What are the benefits of being an MIEA member?
I would urge anyone who is involved in the real estate agency business to become a member of MIEA. It protects their interest and offers a variety of benefits. The perks we offer in addition to invitations to attend training programmes, seminars and talks include member postings and advertising of listings. Benefits are also very dependent on the size of membership. The larger the size of membership, the greater the benefits that we can offer. We are actively looking at increasing MIEA’s membership and will be tapping into the existing pool of registered negotiators and agents. My personal target is to increase membership by threefold. We will certainly carry greater influence with the authorities and regulatory bodies with a larger membership.
MIEA has been addressing issues of identifying and reporting bogus real estate agents. Have things improved so far and what else can be done to increase the awareness for homebuyers/ investors?
We have been working closely with BOVAEA to promote awareness amongst the public on how to distinguish between registered and bogus agents. Registered negotiators are required to always carry their identifications and list their membership numbers when advertising in the media. To complement our efforts, RM2 million was invested by BOVAEA in running an integrated advertising campaign and PR initiatives to further increase public awareness. We are beginning to see results as we increasingly see members of the public insisting on agents presenting their credentials, forcing bogus agents and firms to step back.
What is your outlook on the property market this year?
Although property transactions are lower based on the NAPIC Property Market Report, the market has remained stable and can be expected to grow moderately as prices are holding well and most potential buyers appear to have the holding power. Positive indicators include the narrowing of pricing between seller’s expectations and buyer’s willingness to pay as well as healthy, growing interest amongst foreign home buyers.