Real estate sector gets another body
Sonia Ramachandran 
MIPEAC aims to recruit real estate practitioners that are not represented in any other organisation
REPRESENTATION in the real estate sector is expected to see greater fragmentation with the formation of the Malaysian Institute of Professional Estate Agents and Consultants (MIPEAC).

As it is, real estate agents can be admitted into the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM) and the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS).

They can also join the Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers (MIPPM), Malaysian Association of Muslim Real Estate Negotiators (PEHAM) and the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci).

There are more than 30,000 real estate practitioners in the country, comprising valuers, estate agents and real estate negotiators (RENs) but only a small fraction are represented by any organisation.

This is one of the reasons cited to establish MIPEAC, which was set up in mid-July.

MIPEAC wants to raise industry professional standards higher than it is, says Loh

Its president Francis S P Loh tells FocusM that there is a need for the new organisation as only 4% of about 31,000 real estate practitioners in the market are part of any organisation.

“We want to provide a platform and recruit those who are not captured by other real estate bodies.

“We also want to raise the professional standard higher than it is,” says Loh, who is also the managing director of VPC Alliance (PJ) Sdn Bhd.

However, he says MIPEAC also “complements existing associations”.

“Our objectives are basically the same. All of us want to elevate the profession to protect public interest,” he says, adding that it is open to members of other associations.

Too many players

There are concerns that the setting up of MIPEAC may lead to further fragmentation of the industry.

An industry observer says members of the profession are already few compared to other countries.

This, he says, is compounded by the fact that not many are joining any organisation. With more organisations being formed, he says the field will get “more saturated”.

“People have to fight to have their voices heard. Everything is a numbers game. If your numbers are small, your cost goes up for such things as events and when it comes to providing benefits,” he says.

The industry observer believes it is “unhealthy” and there is “no need” for one single practice to have multiple organisations representing them.

“In politics, new parties are usually formed because of fall-outs. Is this the case here?

“I am not against such organisations but does it serve the benefit of members? We need a single voice to be heard as an authority,” he says.

Loh says no “bad blood” with any other real estate practitioners’ organisation led to the creation of MIPEAC.

“No. We can work together with whoever wants to work with us,” he says.

He does not know the reaction of other real estate practitioners’ organisations to MIPEAC but believes it will not be an issue. “We have members of MIEA, RISM and PEPS who have joined us.

“We are a democratic country. Anybody is free to form any association,” he says, adding that more organisations representing similar causes “would make all of us stronger”.

Separate boards

Another industry observer agrees that while another association may lead to greater division in the industry, he says the reasons for setting it up must also be considered.

A reason given by some is that MIEA does not seem to represent the views of the estate agency professionals at large, he says.

He cites the decision made at its extraordinary general meeting recently calling for a separate board to represent estate agents.

He says this vote was made by a relatively small number of MIEA members, not realising that most of the valuers are also estate agents themselves, who wouldn’t want a separate board governing them.

“This is like reinventing the wheel. We cannot have two authorities governing the same profession,” he says.

RENs can join

On the organisation’s name, Loh says the founders wanted one that reflected their status as estate agents.

“I believe the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 is being amended so that estate agents can also call themselves ‘consultants’ so we are thinking one step ahead.

“We also need to differentiate ourselves from existing estate agent bodies. Hence the name MIPEAC,” he says.

On the similarities in name between MIEA and MIPEAC with the only difference being “Professional” and “Consultants”, Loh says: “There are three similarities – Malaysian, Institute and Estate Agents.

“Why? We are a Malaysian organisation. Institute is commonly used for professional organisations and we both represent the interests of estate agents. Hence some similarities are unavoidable.”

Loh also says a major difference in MIPEAC is that it will admit RENs. “There are 24,058 RENs registered with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents.

“Of all the other associations, only MIEA admits RENs but they have no voting rights. RENs who join us will be entitled to vote three of their representatives to the council of MIPEAC,” he says.

Why is it important for RENs to be part of an association?

MIPEAC deputy president See Kok Leong, who is also a director of Metro Homes Sdn Bhd says: “They are the front liners who deal with customers. The whole industry is important, not just the RENs.

“Everyone plays a role, so we need an association that includes everyone.”

MIPEAC secretary-general Low Weng Soon says membership is “affordable” and open to estate agents, probationary estate agents, RENs, the staff of estate agencies and students.

New Institute to help weed out bogus agents
THE newly formed Malaysian Institute of Professional Estate Agents and Consultants (MIPEAC) aims to elevate the real estate agency as a profession and to weed out the problem of illegal estate agents.

The association, which is formed under the Registry of Societies Malaysia, will also have a Professional Practice Advisory Committee to provide advice to members on issues of compliance with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BOVAEA).

“Many of the smaller practitioners do not have the resources or know-how to deal with complaints against them and problems with the board.

“We will provide these people with professional advice on their rights and how to do things the proper way.

“We will also have continuous professional development talks and luncheon talks that will cover technical skills and provide awareness on what is happening in the market,” says MIPEAC president Francis S P Loh.

See says the problem of illegal estate agents in the Klang Valley has reduced with the registration of real estate negotiators

On illegal estate agents, MIPEAC deputy president See Kok Leong says the problem has reduced in the Klang Valley with the registration of real estate negotiators but still exists in the outskirts and smaller towns where “coffee house brokers” still operate.

“These are the non-professionals who put stakeholders’ money at risk. We want to go to these areas and together with BOVAEA educate and convert them into registered negotiators.

“We also want to conduct awareness campaigns to educate the public,” he says.

See adds that the problem is not new and cannot be solved overnight. “When you don’t have professional people to serve the industry, there will be opportunities for others to abuse it.” 

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 245.