When you (and your significant other) make a decision to go on a journey that ends with one of the biggest and most important transactions in life - i.e. buying a house or an apartment - looking into your real estate agent is not the first thing on your mind.
The most relevant questions you think of are probably along the lines of the following:
- "How can I get the best price for my property?", and
- "How long will the whole process take?"
There is a good chance that the question "Is my property agent legitimate?" doesn't cross your mind at all, since you just assume that your agent is a registered professional. However, this should be one of the first things to check before you engage an agent to help buy, sell, or rent property.
But why is that? And how do you look into such things?
Since all the agents must be registered with CEA (the Council for Estate Agencies), it is against the law for any individual to carry out estate agency work without a valid registration. It is vital that you engage a registered property agent, since unregistered ones may not be familiar with the laws and procedures in connection with property transactions.
What's the drawback of neglecting this step of the process? They could easily mishandle your transaction, resulting in delays or, even worse, heavy financial losses.
The good news is that anyone can check if a property agent is registered. They all have a unique CEA registration number that must be displayed with their names on their estate agent cards that must be worn when they meet clients and shown on advertisements that they put out. When you have an agent’s CEA registration number, name, or mobile number, you can verify his details via the Public Register on the CEA website or CEA@SG mobile app (available for download on the Apple App Store).
What details should you be looking for exactly?
Here's a handy list that might help you:
- agent’s name
- agent’s photograph
- CEA registration number
- registration period
- past disciplinary actions
- awards received
- estate agent that they belong to
- license number of the estate agent
Don't be afraid to be a savvy consumer. When buying/selling a property, achieving peace of mind that your agent is a trustworthy professional is just as important. After all, they are handling a very big transaction for you. Look into them using websites such as agent.sg or social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, and make sure that they are worthy of your trust to help you buy or sell that piece of real estate.