Legislation has been passed to set up a new statutory board to regulate the real estate agency industry.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) will start operations on October 22.
It will take over the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore’s (IRAS) role of licensing estate agents and implement a new regulatory framework for real estate agencies.
Under the new framework, all sales persons will have to register with CEA from January 1 next year before they can start work.
As part of the registration criteria, they will need to have a minimum of four GCE “O” Level passes or equivalent and also pass a mandatory CEA examination for salespersons. They must also not have criminal records for fraud or dishonesty.
The framework also provides enhanced licensing conditions for estate agents.
CEA will start accepting applications for licences from November 1. IRAS will not accept applications for House Agent’s Licence from September 30. Existing estate agents with a valid House Agent’s Licence issued by IRAS will be deemed licensed by CEA until end of this year. They can apply to CEA for a new licence from November 1, before their current licence expires on December 31.
Newly-registered sales persons will need to attend a compulsory examination preparatory course before they can take the new CEA examination. The course will be available from November and will be conducted by CEA-approved course providers. Those who have passed an industry examination such as the Common Examination for House Agents, the Common Examination for Salespersons and the Certified Estate Agent Examination will not be required to take the new CEA examination.
The licensing fees for estate agents will range from S$300 to S$3,000 per annum and the fee is tiered. The annual registration fee for each salesperson is S$230.
Mr Mah said his ministry has briefed industry players on the key changes and prepared them ahead of the new framework that aims to boost standards of professionalism in the industry.
He said: “While the majority of estate agents and salespersons are providing professional services, a few black sheep have seriously tarnished the image of the industry, undermined consumer confidence, and hurt the interest of consumers that they are supposed to represent.
“The purpose of the new regulatory framework is not just to safeguard consumers against errant agents, but also to preserve the integrity of the industry.”