PETALING JAYA: The number of complaints received by the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) has increased by 30% during the movement control order (MCO) and the subsequent modified and recovery MCO periods.
This increase of complaints is a cause of concern for MIEA, which fears that members of the public might risk their life savings or go into financial ruin by placing their trust in those who are not authorised or certified by law to carry out real estate transactions.
Referring to recent scam-related articles that appeared in several publications, MIEA president Lim Boon Ping said illegal brokers tend to opt for quick profits, and they are not trained, recognised or authorised to do any real estate transaction.
By law, the term real estate agent refers to a person who has passed Parts 1 and 2 of the real estate exams over a minimum period of two years and has also undergone post practical training for an additional two years.
On completion, they have to sit for a test of professional competence before their names are placed in a register by the Board of Valuers Appraisers, Estate Agents, and Property Managers and only then they are called real estate agents, he said.
“They are governed by ACT 242 and have fiduciary responsibilities to their clients and adhere to the code of conduct and ethics,” he added.
MIEA has made numerous statements regarding scams and is carrying out its own public awareness campaign called #myrealagents.
“We have strongly advised all Malaysians who are planning to engage in property transactions to use the services of a registered estate agent (REA), probationary estate agent (PEA) or real estate negotiator (REN).
“MIEA also encourages Malaysians to seek the assistance of MIEA to verify whether the ones you are dealing with are legally agents,” he said.
Lim said REAs and RENs are trained to be professional and ethical in their business dealings, aware of market trends and are familiar with the laws governing property transactions.
“Should there be any concerns or issues, members of the public who use the services of a REA or REN can at least feel safe and protected in that every registered firm is required to have a client’s account and purchase Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover themselves against any negligence with monies received or held by them.
“While there may be a small number of delinquents in the profession, a significant majority of agents and negotiators adhere to a high standard of practice. Any misdoings by a Real Estate Agent or certified Negotiators can be addressed to the Real Estate Firm that employs them or to Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers to remedy the situation,” he said.
Act 242 or Valuers, Appraisers, and Estate Agents Act 1981 states that illegal brokers who engage in property transactions can if convicted, be fined not exceeding RM300,000, or imprisonment for a term, not more than three years, or both.
A further penalty of RM1,000 for each day during the continuance of such offence shall also be imposed. This provision also applies to any person who aids and abets in the commission of the offence.