About 30 to 40 real estate cheats are being reported every month as a result of 50,000 illegal real estate brokers operating in the country.
Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) chairman Eric Lim Chin Heng said the number of illegal real estate brokers are mushrooming overnight despite strict laws governing the sale and purchase of properties.
“Issues on illegal real estate brokers have become varied. Now, they have also stretched to foreigners including Singaporeans selling properties in Johor to Malaysians.
“We also have foreign developers selling properties to Malaysians without getting BOVAEA approval. This can pose a lot of problems for buyers who are unaware of the issues,” Lim said at a media briefing at Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Under Section 30 of the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981, anyone who commits an offence is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
Lim said these illegal and unregistered real estate agents and negotiators are profiteering through various misconducts that are jeopardising the professionalism and accountability of the real estate industry.
“Many are still ignorant and use the services of illegal agents. These complications have left many with financial losses, some losing their life savings, ingraining a deep sense of mistrust against registered property agents,” he added.
Among the misconducts reported included the misinterpretation of the size of property, miscalculation of assets valuation, failure to return deposits and delay in providing services before signing the purchase agreement.
Hence, Lim said BOVAEA has designed a three-pronged approach to curb the alarming issue of illegal real estate brokers such as improving the standards of real estate agents and negotiators, engaging with various government agencies and local authorities and launching an education campaign that is both proactive and reactive in resolving the matter in the long run.
“We want to ensure that new agents obtain approval from BOVAEA, and only Malaysians are registered as real estate negotiators. Even if the property owner is a Singaporean, they must appoint a Malaysian real estate agent,” he said.
A new identification tag system was also introduced in May, where real estate agents who are registered with BOVAEA will be given the tag.
Lim also launched an awareness campaign, namely “Anti CAMP”, which stands for cheating, absconding, misinterpretation and profiteering.
“Anti CAMP has two main components, which are a collaboration with government agencies to catch the culprits as well as an awareness campaign to educate the public about the methods used by illegal agents,” Lim said.
He explained that BOVAEA is working with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and other local authorities to remove illegal property signboards and retrieve advertised telephone numbers.
The numbers will be submitted to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to be blocked to improve enforcement efforts.
“However, this alone would not be enough as the problem needs to be stopped, and that can only be done if the public is aware of the issue,” said Lim.
He also urges the public to come forward and lodge reports with BOVAEA on any activities undertaken by illegal real estate brokers to effectively curb the problem.