Tips for home buyers – how to avoid illegal real estate brokers – CTA to engage with ORESB

Fake real estate agents are mushrooming overnight despite the strict laws that govern the sale and purchase of any property. Real estate scams are a big problem in today’s real estate market thanks to homeowners desperate to stave off foreclosure and con artists who are eager to rip off those looking to buy or rent. It can be hard to know a legitimate opportunity when it comes along, especially if that opportunity seems to good to be true. Working with a reputable real estate agent can be a great way to avoid the most common types of real estate scams but there are other things you can do to protect yourself. There have been many recent cases of crooks deceiving property owners and buyers by posing as registered real estate negotiators. The recent hike in complaints of illegal property agents has urged the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) to take proactive measures to address the problem. Do your homework. Working with a real estate agent can be the best way to protect yourself against many of these scams but you need to do your homework. Make sure the agent you are working with is licensed. Check online reviews of your agent. Ask your agent questions. If someone you know has purchased a home or rented an apartment, ask if they used an agent, who that agent was and what their impressions were. Con artists rarely do legitimate sales or rentals so if your friend or family member got what they were promised from an agent, that agent is probably okay.

BOVAEA recently launched the anti C.A.M.P campaign to educate people on the methods used by these conmen. C.A.M.P stands for:

  • Cheating: acting dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage over the client
  • Absconding: running away with client’s money (usually with the deposit money)
  • Misrepresentation: providing false fact or an omission of fact that could have affected the purchase decision
  • Profiteering: attempts to take advantage of circumstances to make excessive profits (manipulation of prices)

Under Section 30 of the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, the accused can be fined RM300,000, face three years in prison, or both.

The best way to avoid dealing with a fake agent is to insist on checking the Real Estate Authority Tag. Verify your agent by watching out for the 6 details that you should find from a real property agent.

  1. Tag colour
    The authority tag comes in two colours. The red colour denotes that the bearer of the tag is a Real Estate Negotiator or a Probationary Estate Agent. While blue colour tags identify the tag bearer as a Registered Estate Agent.
  1. QR code
    The authority tag contains a QR code. With the wide use of smartphones these days, it is convenient for the public to use their mobile device to scan and verify that the negotiator is registered with BOVAEA.
  1. Agency
    Always check on the name of the agency or firm that the negotiator is registered with. The card will be replaced when the negotiator joins a new agency or firm.
  1. REN name
    There are two names printed on the card. The larger print name is the ‘pseudo’ name used by the negotiator in conducting business while the smaller print name is the full birth name in accordance to the individual’s NRIC.
  1. REN number
    Each Real Estate Negotiator is assigned with a unique REN number. The REN number is required to be displayed in all forms of communication and marketing collaterals. The general public can verify whether the REN is authorised through BOVAEA’s webpage.
  1. Hologram
    A state-of-the-art hologram image of the BOVAEA logo has been created to differentiate it from unauthorised counterfeit tags.

Illegal brokers are out there for quick profits and they are not trained, recognised or authorised to do any real estate transactions. Lim said registered agents must have passed Part 1 & 2 of the real estate exams over a minimum period of two years and 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 registered by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers. He said real estate agents are governed by the Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers Act and have fiduciary responsibilities to their clients and adhere to a code of conduct and ethics.