Business & Economy Property Singapore based proptech start-ups accused of plying trade illegally in M'sia

Singapore based proptech start-ups accused of plying trade illegally in M’sia

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The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) on March 27 said that it was concerned over the mushrooming of Singapore based Proptech start-ups providing real estate agency services under the guise of technology solutions.

In a statement, MIEA claimed that these Singapore based Proptech start-ups are bogus agents who perform services to bridge a sale or rental and help buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. They even directly state that this is to avoid using real estate agents to help save costs for them. These Proptech start-ups provide real estate services, prepare tenancy agreements, collect rentals and claim their services are better.

MIEA said as the body appointed to represent real estate agents under the law, they were concerned over these claims made by the Singapore based Proptech start-ups.

“These tech startups are getting braver and bolder by challenging the law. They claim to help the public sell and rent their properties. That means they are illegally operating real estate practice when they collect a fee in any shape or form,” said the MIEA president Eric Lim.

He said MIEA has identified nine of these companies and is ready to lodge police reports against whoever is infringing the law and meddling with their practice. The estate agency practice in Malaysia is governed by the Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers Act 1981 (Act 242).

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Real estate negotiators are certified by Malaysia’s Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents & Property Managers (Boveap). Subsection 22c (1)(ba) forbids anyone not registered as an estate agent from offering “for sale, rent or lease or invite, offer to purchase, rent or lease any land buildings”.

Mr Lim called on the Malaysian regulators and its finance ministry to take necessary action against these “Proptech brokers” to protect the public and the laws of the country.

“While we embrace technology and understand how it benefits the profession, these Proptech start-ups should instead work with the 20,000 real estate practitioners and not take over their role,” added Mr Lim.

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In identifying nine Singapore based proptech start-ups which MIEA claims are operating real estate practices illegally in Malaysia, the institute said that it is ready to lodge police reports on whoever is infringing the law and meddling with the practice.

MIEA expressed concerns over Singapore based Proptech start-ups claiming to provide real estate technology solution but have circumvented the Malaysian law by carrying out real estate practice illegally.

“Firstly, they come in saying that their tech platform is to bridge a sale or rental and help buyers and sellers and/or landlords and tenants respectively. They even directly state that this is to avoid using real estate agents to help save cost for them and they provide real estate services, prepare tenancy agreements, collect rentals and even claim their service is better,” said Mr Lim.

“These tech start-ups are getting braver and bolder by challenging the law. They claim to help the public sell and rent their properties and that means they are illegally operating real estate practice when they collect a fee in any shape or form,” he added.

The real estate agency practice in Malaysia is governed by Act 242 whereby real estate agents are registered and real estate negotiators are certified by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents & Property Managers (BOVEAP).

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Real estate transactions in the country can only be handled by real estate agents, real estate negotiators and property owners thus the real estate practices undertaken by such proptech start-ups are illegal, according to Section 22c of the Act.

“We call upon BOVEAP the regulators of our profession and the Finance Ministry to take the necessary action against these ‘proptech brokers’ to protect the public and the laws of the country,” said Mr Lim.

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He said real estate agents and negotiators are legally bound to follow the rules, standards and ethics in rendering service to clients and MIEA members are trained to protect the interest of clients.

“Monies collected are required by law to be placed in a client’s account and covered with professional indemnity insurance. All real estate negotiators and probationary estate agents are trained to represent the clients professionally and we play a big role in the country helping clients to get their ideal property.

“Any insinuation of any tech companies in what we do and who does not understand the complexity and role we play is an infringement on our practice and we will not condone nor be silent about it anymore,” Mr Lim added in the statement.

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