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New association minted for real estate agents

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A new association called the Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA) is slated to be launched by the first quarter of this year, in an industry-led initiative to raise professionalism in real estate agency work and provide a unified voice for agencies and their salespersons.

BT learnt that SEAA has already been registered as a society with the "blessing" of the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA).

Though membership for SEAA is not mandatory, agents would be incentivised to join through the offering of common services such as training, dispute resolution and professional indemnity services. Other potential value-added services that may be offered include a platform to publish property listings and to register the transactions agents clock to create a common database.

Details of the new association have not been made public yet.

Currently, agents can join existing associations called the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA), which has sought to be the voice of the profession, and the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA), which provides training and education for agents. Both associations, which have seen their combined membership dwindle to below 1,500 in an industry of over 30,000 registered salespersons, are expected to fade out of the scene.

Confirming this, SAEA chief executive Dennis Tay told BT on Friday that 24 key executive officers from a mix of agencies and international consultancies, SAEA and IEA came together in 2014 to form the main committee for the planned association.

"The committee believes that it is timely to have a strong representation that collectively work together with the authorities, promote the interest for the members (estate agents and salespersons) and gain more benefits for them through economies of scale," Mr Tay said. "The public views the industry as one that is very fragmented. Having one body with strong support is critical." BT understands that the original plan was to merge the two existing associations but the final undertaking has become a formation of SEAA.

SAEA has since become the new association's secretariat and has agreed to scale down its operations. There are plans to transfer existing membership and training courses to the new association, Mr Tay told BT. SAEA will also provide the seed fund to kick-start operations. Incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, it will be wound up.

As for IEA that comes under the Registry of Societies, it will have to convene an annual general meeting and seek consent to be dissolved. It now has 667 members, according to its website.

An Exco Steering Committee for SEAA, formed from the main committee, now comprises 10 representatives.

The SEAA formation sets in amid tough times for real estate agents after transactions fell off a cliff from 2013 onwards. Forewarnings by top agencies' honchos of more agents dropping out of the industry rang true in CEA's October-December license renewal period.

Credit from: The Business Times, 11 January 2016

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