Type ‘Malaysia real estate scams’ online and you will understand why serious action was required to regain public confidence in Malaysian real estate. According to BOVAEA (Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents) Malaysia member Alex J Gomez the association has been receiving an average of 60 complaints a month, on unethical practices carried out by negotiators who are attached to registered real estate agencies and firms. “BOVAEA does not have the authority to ‘handle’ these people or firms not registered with the Board; except lodge police reports on verified cases,” Gomez informs. To address this issue and regain people’s confidence in the real estate industry, BOVAEA recently introduced a new tag identification system.Organisation president Datuk Abdul Hamid Abu Bakar informed a press gathering, that over the years, the local real estate industry had acquired a negative image due to the unethical and unprofessional manner in which “illegals” – illegitimate and unauthorised REA (real estate agents) and REN (real estate negotiators) – were going about their business. “With the new tag system, the public can spot the difference between a fake REN from a registered one. Just scan the QR code on the identification tag with a device like a smartphone, and you will receive all the details about the REN. Compare this to the details on the tag and the REN’s namecard; they should tally.” He also urges the public to take a confident stand and be conscious of their rights. “Take action and lodge a report with BOVAEA or call us if you need more information or clarifications. Once the system is enforced, all RENs MUST wear their tags. It will be an offence not to,” Abdul Hamid adds. With help from a conscious public, BOVAEA hopes to weed out and negate these unlicensed, shady-dealing individuals, who are tainting the image of the local real estate industry. The new system requires all REAs and RENs to be registered with BOVAEA. It was established to address three core objectives: 1) To improve and elevate the professionalism and accountability of all negotiators in the real estate industry; 2) To curb the activities of “illegal” agents in the market; and 3) To educate the general public to only engage with registered real estate agents and negotiators. Under this registration regulation, a REA will be allowed to engage or hire a maximum of 20 RENs. Each REN will be held accountable for his real estate business dealings. He or she is not required to have any licence but will need to have attended the one-day course which is held nationwide by approved course providers, to receive the Certificate of Attendance. This certificate, together with the registration application form must be submitted to BOVAEA. Once registration is received and approved, BOVAEA will issue an identification tag which certifies that the REN is registered with BOVAEA and allowed to conduct sanctioned real estate dealings. For REAs, it is compulsory to have completed the examinations conducted by BOVAEA. REAs will also need to be registered with BOVAEA to obtain the authority to: provide real estate services including buying, selling and leasing properties for clients; and to hire up to 20 RENs to execute real estate services under his or her direction. BOVAEA registration for RENs was conducted from October 2013 and ended on Feb 28 this year. Nationwide implementation of the tag system is targeted to take effect from May. The REN tag will display the REN and REA registration numbers and personal details. The security features include the QR code, the holographic film and the bar code. All RENs will be required to visibly display their tag while conducting their real estate business. To ensure this practice is enforced, BOVAEA board member Eric Lim cautioned real estate industry players: “Under Section 30 of the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, anyone who commits an offence is liable for conviction. (Fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years, or both).” Gomez adds that the Malaysian Real Estate Agency Standards has been amended and will come into force sometime this year. He urges the public to visit BOVAEA’s website (at lppeh.gov.my) for additional information on this new system. “BOVAEA is the legislative body for all Valuers, Appraisers & Estate Agents. The secretariat at BOVAEA is entrusted to manage and implement this system of registering RENs. All complaints will first be verified and the complainants informed on the progress of the case on a periodic basis.” Gomez also states that REAs can be charged under the current rules for any infringement, as the case may be, on the advice of BOVAEA solicitors. “The RENs can now be called in together with their supervising registrant to answer any enquiries. BOVAEA has been dealing with complaints from the date of the enforcement of the ACT. The Complaints Investigating Committee (CIC) will first study the complaint and then call in the registrant(s) for an inquiry to first establish whether there is a ‘prima facie’ case. The time frame depends on the circumstances of each case.” n the advice of the BOVAEA’s solicitors. “The RENs can now be called in together with their supervising registrant to answer any enquiries. BOVAEA has been dealing with complaints from the date of the enforcement of the ACT. The Complaints Investigating Committee (CIC) will first study the complaint and then call in the Registrant/s for an inquiry to first establish whether there is a ‘prima facie’ case. The time frame depends on the circumstances of each case,” he adds. The date for the implementation of this new tag system has been scheduled to be enforced by early May. BOVAEA (Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents) • Set up in 1981 under the purview of the Ministry of Finance. • Its operation is governed by the provision of the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981. • Function is to: 1) Regulate the professional conduct/ethics of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents practising in Malaysia; 2) Approve and/or reject applications for registration; 3) Keep and maintain the Register of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents, Probationary Valuers and Probationary Estate Agents, and firms of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents; 4) Hold disciplinary proceedings; 5) Conduct examinations; 6) Prescribe Scale of Fees; and 7) Award scholarships. The difference between REA (real estate agent) and REN (real estate negotiator) • A REA is an individual who has attained the requirements and/or completed the examination conducted by BOVAEA, and who is registered under BOVAEA. • A REA is licensed to: a) Provide real estate services including buying, selling and leasing properties for clients, and b) Hire up to 20 real estate negotiators (RENs) to carry out real estate services under his or her supervision. • A REN is an individual who does not have the licence from BOVAEA. He is employed or engaged to assist the REA to execute real estate services. DID YOU KNOW? As at Feb 28, BOVAEA has 1,789 registered and bona fide REAs and more than 16,243 RENs.