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Real Estate Agency & Role of Agent or Negotiator

 

ID-10057074

 

1. Who is a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is a property marketing professional who represents a property owner to sell or let his/her property. Under Malaysian law, an agent must be registered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia to practice. Every real estate firm/branch must have at least one registered agent full time in charge.

 

2. Who is a real estate negotiator?

A real estate negotiator is a sales person working in a registered estate agency and is recognized by the authority. Negotiators are not authorised to act independently of the estate agency firm and can only work for one estate agent at any one time and on a full time basis only.

With effect from 1 June, 2014, it is compulsory for negotiators to be registered with the Board of Valuers, Apraisers and Estate Agents, failing which they are deemed illegal.

 

3. How do I know if a real estate agent or negotiator is legal and recognized by the authority?

A registered real estate agency has a certificate of authority to practice and has a registration number such as E(3)1116. You may verify the registration at the website of the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia at www.lppeh.gov.my.

A registered firm has a proper physical office with signage and land telephone lines. The firm's name, registration number, land line phone numbers are always displayed in all marketing materials. You are strongly advised to check all these when dealing with anyone claiming to be estate agent.

For real estate negotiators, they are required to be registered with the authority and to carry identification tags with registration numbers (such as REN 01234) while conducting business. The identification tags come with hi-tech security features to prevent imitation, and quick response (QR) codes that link to the authority's database.

You can verify the registration and legality of any negotiator using the QR code or the authority's website at www.lppeh.gov.my. Please also check the national registration identity card (NRIC) of the negotiator.

Negotiators are also required to print their REN numbers on name cards, banners, advertisements and all marketing materials.

 

4. What exactly does a real estate agent or negotiator do for property sellers and buyers?

To perform the following professional and fiduciary functions, in compliance with all the relevant laws and rules by the authorities:

  • Obtain appointments from property owners to represent them in selling and letting of properties.
  • Carry out comparable market analysis of the subject properties.
  • Brief owners on the best marketing strategies and practices.
  • Advise owners on realistic pricing according to comparable prices, property conditions, demand/supply, and economic scenario.
  • Advise owners on laws relating to property, contract and market practices.
  • To alert owners of suspected fraud or unethical practices if any.
  • Report to owners on the progress of marketing activities and results.
  • Market the properties by on-line and off-line methods.
  • Qualify prospects and show properties.
  • Negotiate all the terms, conditions and prices.
  • Write up offers to purchase or rent.
  • Collect and safeguard earnest deposits for purchase or rental.
  • Gather relevant documents to pass to solicitors for further actions.
  • Ensure that both parties adhere to agreed terms, conditions and datelines.
  • Assist buyers to obtain loans.
  • Follow up on the whole transaction process and keep clients informed.
  • Hand over keys upon completion of transactions.
  • Act as the go-between should disputes arise, and handle problems professionally and creatively.
  • To ensure fair deals and that the clients' interests are protected.

 

5. Why do I need a registered estate agent/negotiator for my property transactions?

A registered estate agent/negotiator is the most competent person to market and sell/let properties because:

  • The firm is registered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia.
  • You are protected against fraud, misrepresentation or unethical practices in property transactions.
  • Professionally trained, academically qualified and experienced person.
  • Has professional indemnity insurance.
  • Provide professional service and advice in your best interest, in full compliance with the Acts, Rules and Code of Ethics.
  • Has wide-ranging knowledge on property matters - building structures, local geography, laws and rules, market practices, financing, demand/supply and economic condition.
  • Well-trained in sales, negotiation and closing of deals. These enable you to get the best price, terms and conditions.
  • Knows the best marketing strategies on-line and off-line. Has vast database of contacts.
  • Ensure fair transaction and that your interests are protected.
  • See that the seller's/buyer's obligations are clearly written and adhered to.
  • As a stakeholder to safeguard the earnest deposit paid for confirmation of purchase/rental.
  • Saves you time, effort, hassles and harm through efficient practice.
  • Act as mediator to resolve conflicts with win-win and creative solutions.
  • Reduce your property holding costs if it is not producing income, by expediting sale/rental.

 

6. How many types of agency appointments are there to suit my preference?

There are five types of agency appointments, namely:

  • Exclusive Agency - where only one agent is appointed, excluding all other agencies, excluding even the owner to sell/let it him/herself.
  • Sole Agency - where only one agent is engaged, and the owner reserves the right to sell/let it him/herself.
  • Sole Joint Agency - where only one agent is appointed, who collaborate and share the work with the owner, at a reduced fee.
  • Joint Agency - where a limited number of agents are hired, each aware of the others, and whoever closes the deal gets paid.
  • Ad Hoc Basis / Open Listing - where an unlimited number of agents are engaged, and fee is paid to the agent who closes the deal.

 

7. Why should I engage an agent on exclusive basis?

There are many advantages for a client to appoint an agent on an exclusive basis:

  • Exclusive agents are more committed, accountable and motivated to work on the property when the threat from other competing agents is removed.
  • The agent exposes more details in advertising, are more willing to "co-broke" with other agents, without the fear of others under-cutting the deal. This results in better marketing exposure.
  • The owner is spared the hassle of dealing with multiple agents, has only one agent reporting on progress, who is fully accountable for all acts or omissions. The owner needs not give a set of keys to every agent that comes along.
  • The owner is not confused by many promised offers from agents, and overlook the genuine one.
  • In negotiations, the exclusive agent can hold on longer to the intended price, without the fear of other lower offers from other agents. Competition among agents may result in lower concluded prices.

 

8. Doesn't ad hoc appointments of multiple agents create more exposure?

Not necessary. When many agents act on ad hoc basis, each one hides property details for fear of more agents coming on board. This limits effective exposure.

Exclusive appointment gives an agent the 'freedom' to go all out in advertising a property.

When an exclusive agent corporate with other agents, in a common practice known as co-agency, the exposure can be as wide as in multiple agents scenario.

 

9. How can I be sure that my agent is working on my property diligently?

Agents are paid only if they successfully closed the deals, so that keeps them on their toes. You may also request for verbal or written progress reports from your agent.

Appointment of agent has a validity period, typically three months and may be extended if property remains unsold. Should you be dissatisfied with your agent, you may choose not to extend the appointment period. In worst scenario, you may terminate the appointment anytime due to the agent's breach of duty.

 

10. What is co-agency or co-broke?

Co-agency (also known as co-broke) means two or more agencies work together to close a deal. An agency that has a potential buyer/tenant but without a suitable property to recommend, may seek the corporation of another agency that has the suitable property.

In negotiation, the seller's agent deals with the seller, and the buyer's agent deals with the buyer. When a deal is closed, the seller pays only a single fee to his/her agent, who in turn shares it with the buyer's agent.

 

11. How much does it cost to hire an agent to sell/let my property?

Estate agents' professional fees are regulated by the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 under the Schedule of Fees, which are summarized as follows:

Sale or Purchase

(a) Land and Buildings - Maximum fee of 3%
(b) Fees for other services such as joint venture, sale of company, property swaps, etc. - Maximum fee of 3%
(c) Chattels including Plant and Machinery - 10 % of the proceeds

Minimum fee : As above, subject to a minimum fee shall be RM1,000 per property.

The above scale applies to any sale or purchase by way of private treaty, tender or any other mode of disposal or acquisition.

For Sale and Marketing of projects by registered estate agents, the fees are to be agreed between the estate agent and the client.

Lettings

Duration of Tenancy / Maximum (Fee equivalent to)

(a) Up to 3 years - 1.25 months gross rental
(b) Exceeding 3 years up to 4 years - 1.50 months gross rental
(c) Exceeding 4 years up to 5 years - 1.75 months gross rental

Minimum fee : As above subject to a minimum fee of 1 month rental.

For tenancies less than one year, the fee may be calculated on a pro rata basis. The above scale shall not apply to serviced offices or apartments or any other premises of a similar nature.

Rent Reviews (renewal of tenancy) - 50 % of the fees chargeable under lettings

Additional Claims

In addition to the fees stated in items 1 to 3, claims may be made for the following expenses, with the prior concurrence of the client:
(a) the cost of printing, plans, copies of documents, lithography, traveling (only where the distance between the estate agent's office and the property is more than 40 km) and other expenses actually incurred;
(b) the cost of media advertisements, signboards, brochures and other promotional material.

 

12. When is the professional/agency fee due?

The professional/agency fee is due upon execution of the formal Sale and Purchase Agreement or Tenancy Agreement, as the case may be.

For conditional agreements (such as upon obtaining state authority's consent), the fee is due either upon execution of the said agreement, or upon the last condition fulfilled, as agreed between the agent and the client.

The earnest deposit paid by the buyer/tenant and held by the agent as stakeholder may be used to fully or partially off-set the professional fee due, with the consent of the client.

 

13. Do I have to pay the Service Tax of 6% on the professional fee?

Yes, any client who engages the services of a professional is required to pay the Service Tax under the Service Tax Act 1975. From 1 January 2008, firms providing professional services are required to collect service tax from clients, regardless of the 'threshold' of total income of the firm. Service tax exemptions for firms below the 'threshold', as allowed in the past, no longer applies.

 

14. Is the professional fee deductible from the Real Property Gain Tax (RPGT)?

Yes, estate agents' professional fee is deductible if your transaction is subjected to RPGT. The fee is also deductible from the rental income of your properties.

 

15. Who are illegal property agents or negotiators?

Illegal property agents or negotiators are persons acting on behalf of property owners in selling/letting properties without proper authority to practice issued by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia.

Illegal property agents (as firms) can be identified by the lack of registration number such as E(3)4321. Illegal negotiators do not carry identification tags with registration numbers such as REN 01234. They do not reveal company name, physical office address and no land line phone numbers in their name cards and marketing materials.

They frequently act against the Act, Rules and Code of Ethics, such as soliciting for owners' listing by hanging "property wanted" banners on trees and lamp posts, putting tables and umbrellas in newly completed projects without proper office to operate from.

Under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, illegal agents or negotiators can be fined up to RM300,000 and/or a maximum 3 years imprisonment.

You may verify the validity of agents or negotiators by checking with the website of the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia, at www.lppeh.gov.my.

 

16. What are the pitfalls of engaging illegal property agents or negotiators?

Since illegal property agents or negotiators are not registered with the authority, you may not be able to hold them accountable for acts or omissions that contravenes the law, such as absconding with clients' money. They are also not covered by professional indemnity insurance in case of negligence in carrying out their duties.

Unlike registered agents, illegal agents do not collect service tax from clients, which is against the law. They do not issue official receipts of professional/agency fee to enable you to claim deductions in RPGT, if applicable.

 

by Aaron Lee, Property Street 

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