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Real estate agents back in vogue: Poll

Property agents are back in fashion, according to the latest survey by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), with 72 per cent of the public saying they plan to engage one for future transactions.

This is up from 60 per cent in the last such survey in 2015 and 66 per cent in the previous one in 2012.

Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad pointed to technology and other productivity pushes - ramped up over the last year under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM) - as one reason for increased customer satisfaction. He noted that customers whose agents used three or more tech tools, such as apps with pricing calculators and electronic forms, were more likely to be satisfied.

Also, the proportion of consumers who found their agent online has increased to about a quarter from less than 20 per cent.

"Consumers have spoken - they want the convenience provided by technological tools, and the ability to search for their agents online. This trend is likely to continue and we will all need to adjust accordingly to meet the expectations of consumers," he said.

Mr Zaqy was speaking at the CEA's inaugural real estate agency industry conference yesterday, which was attended by 500 key executive officers and team leaders from the property sector.

The CEA is a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development which licenses property agencies and registers property agents, and seeks to equip consumers with knowledge to make informed decisions in transactions.

Mr Lee Kwong Weng, CEA's executive director, said: "The uptrend in consumer satisfaction with their property agents' services is an indication that the industry has made steady progress in raising its professionalism and ethical standards, and improving service to clients."

The CEA conducted its third public perception survey between May and July last year, interviewing 1,529 customers and potential customers - meaning those who have not engaged the services of property agents before.

Mr Zaqy also shared how the authorities are facilitating technological adoption, training agents and enhancing consumer trust as part of the ITM.

One change is to the Continuing Professional Development framework, which helps agents to stay relevant. Currently, agents must take six credits a year to renew their licences, of which at least three must be from professional courses, such as those related to real estate laws and regulations.

From Oct 1, four of these credits should be from attending professional courses, and two from attending courses to improve softer skills like creative thinking and communication.

Another change in the pipeline is a standard contract template for the resale of private residential properties, after a successful run with a template for renting homes, said Mr Zaqy.

"Consumers, whether tenant or landlord, buyer or seller, who use these templates can be assured that their interests are protected," he said. "Agents using these templates will also benefit from spending less time negotiating contractual terms and conditions."

However, National University of Singapore real estate professor Sing Tien Foo warned that realtors may see their numbers dwindle, despite the uptick in positive sentiments.

"In the short term, technology helps to make transactions more efficient. But in the long run, it can and should replace some of these jobs," he said. "If the number of transactions hovers around the same point every year, then over time, some agents may become redundant."

As of Jan 1, there were 29,146 realtors - about 2 per cent more than the 28,571 agents 12 months earlier. Professor Sing has said a more sustainable number is closer to 15,000 to 20,000 realtors.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/real-estate-agents-b...

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 27 March 2019

Real-estate players tapping proptech to boost customer experience

Property agencies and associations are now aligning themselves with proptech platforms so their network of agents can offer their clients souped-up digital services.

The Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA), a grouping of real estate players, announced on Tuesday a proposed acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in online property platform SoReal Prop, which was jointly founded by ERA Realty, Huttons Asia and PropNex Realty.

The acquisition will strengthen the capabilities of SEAA's nearly 4,700 real estate agency and salesperson members, putting in their hands innovative digital tools so they can offer customer advice and perform tasks more quickly, said the SEAA.

Launched in March last year, SoReal Prop aims to streamline the real-estate transaction process between salespersons and consumers. Its technology platform serves as a central repository of property data and hosts vetted listings, so salespersons who are equipped with the RealAgent app can access this information for their clients in real-time.

The proposed acquisition is in line with one of the key goals of the industry transformation map for the real estate industry, which is to fully digitalise property transactions.

For the purpose of the acquisition, SEAA has constituted a company known as SEAA Services to govern the live data feeds by the consortium of agencies.

Under this umbrella, the RealAgent app - used by almost 23,000 agents in just over a year - will continue to provide their clients with property advice, along with access to what the SEAA says is the largest consolidated real-time residential and commercial transaction data.

Other than property reports with the embedded indicative selling price, other features include Real Launches, a component with access to information on new residential projects in Singapore, as well as eight property calculators.

For property buyers and sellers in Singapore, SEAA Services will enhance the platform with the RealHome app, connecting them with the agents marketing those properties and even reviews of agents.

In the long-run, the feedback from the apps could serve to improve processes so as to provide seamless and secure transactions for consumers, said SEAA.

Thomas Tan, President of SEAA, said: "Some of the challenges faced by agents today include duplicated listings, high marketing costs to advertise on multiple platforms, high subscription fees and outdated information that is not refreshed in real-time."

He added that the association hopes to create an effective platform that can provide transparent information quickly, benefiting consumers, salespersons and even property developers.

Separately on Tuesday, real estate agency OrangeTee & Tie announced its partnership with Germany-headquartered startup Helpling, which will give its agents access to home-cleaning services through the firm's Agent App.

Through the app, property agents will be able to book the services of professional housekeepers listed on the Helpling platform, to get their properties cleaned before presenting them to potential home-buyers or tenants.

They can also refer their clients to Helpling through the Agent App.

Steven Tan, managing director of OrangeTee & Tie, said the firm believes on-demand housekeeping services are up-and-coming as homes shrink in size and as demand for stay-in domestic helpers falls.

"It is therefore important that our agents are provided with a seamless experience of booking home-cleaning services for their clients. Ultimately, agents should constantly provide high value and impeccable customer-centric services to their clients."

OrangeTee & Tie is no stranger to proptech. Last month, it unveiled an initiative known as Auto-Website, through which agents can launch and manage their own project websites in three steps.

The facility also gives agents their own platforms to manage their own virtual shopfronts and better engage their clients. It is expected to be launched by the second quarter of this year.

Another tech initiative called "Newsfeed", already live, is an internal communication channel for faster and more accurate dissemination of information to those in the property industry.

Source: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/real-estate-players-ta...

Adapted from: The Business Times, 27 March 2019

CPD framework reviewed to benefit property agents

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework for real estate agents has been reviewed to include a more structured approach for agents to deepen technical knowledge and skill sets.

Property agents will be required to fulfil six credits per annual CPD cycle, four of which must be from courses related to professional competencies to deepen their technical knowledge, and two of which must be from courses related to generic competencies to sharpen their soft skills.

Courses related to professional competencies will be grouped into three categories - law and regulations, property markets and other real estate knowledge.

Courses related to generic competencies will be grouped into 18 categories, including leadership, digital literacy, communication and creative thinking.

The new framework will take effect on Oct 1, 2019. Announced at the inaugural Council for Estate Agencies' (CEA) Estate Agency Industry Conference on Tuesday, this is part of the initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM) launched last year.

In his speech at the conference, Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Manpower, said: "With changing consumer habits and the opportunities presented by technology, this is a timely juncture to discuss how the industry can continue to remain competitive and relevant to consumers."

Other updates on progress of the Real Estate ITM include the development of standard tenancy agreement templates for HDB flats and private residential properties to provide a fair and common standard for all parties and reduce time spent negotiating contractual terms and conditions.

Standard contract templates for the resale of private residential properties are being developed as well.

These initiatives were created by the Digitalised Property Transactions Workgroup headed by the CEA, which aims to streamline and digitalise the property transaction process.

The workgroup has also been working with government agencies to release property-related government data via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to automate administrative tasks such as due diligence checks.

The conference also revealed results from CEA's third run of the Public Perception Survey (PPS) on the real estate agency industry, which it conducts every three years.

There were three key findings from the survey.

Firstly, there was an increase in the percentage of consumers satisfied with the service provided by their property agent to 85 per cent compared to 79 per cent and 81 per cent in 2015 and 2012 respectively.

Secondly, consumers were significantly more satisfied with their agents' service when agents used three or more forms of real estate technology tools.

Lastly, 72 per cent of consumers indicated that they would engage in the services of a property agent in future transactions, an increase from 60 per cent and 66 per cent in 2015 and 2012 respectively.

"The uptrend in consumer satisfaction with their property agents' services is an indication that the industry has made steady progress in raising its professionalism and ethical standards," said Mr Lee Kwong Weng, executive director of CEA.

"We will continue to support property agencies and agents in enhancing their knowledge and competencies, encourage them to leverage technology for innovation, productivity and service quality enhancement."

Source: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/cpd-framework-reviewed...

Adapted from: The Business Times, 27 March 2019

Golden Mile Complex seeks to sell en bloc again

Iconic development Golden Mile Complex will today be launched for tender a second time after it closed its initial tender on its collective sale on Jan 30.

Its reserve price remains unchanged at $800 million.

Marketing agent Edmund Tie & Company declined to reveal details about the results of the first tender or when the collective sale agreement expires.

To read more: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/golden-mile-complex-...

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 27 March 2019

Golden Mile Complex tender relaunched at S$800m reserve price

Edmund Tie & Company (ET&Co) has relaunched a tender for the sale of Golden Mile Complex, with the reserve price unchanged at S$800 million.

The current tender exercise will close on April 25 at 3pm. The property, known for its signature step-terraced building design, could be conserved if a buyer is found.

ET&Co, the marketing agent for the en bloc project, said applications have been submitted to conserve the existing 16-storey building and add a new block next to it.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has indicated that subject to conservation of the main Golden Mile Complex building, the existing development can be intensified to a total gross floor area of 85,977.5 sq m, reflecting an equivalent plot ratio of 6.387. The original designers of Golden Mile Complex, DP Architects (formerly Design Partnership), will serve as consultant architect for the redevelopment of the property.

"It is possible to integrate the new development sensitively with the old so that the history of the building can enhance the sense of place and bring value to the whole development," said DP Architects director Chan Hui Min.

The existing property has a land area of about 1.3ha, sits on Beach Road and boasts panoramic sea and city views along both Beach Road and Nicoll Highway. It is also located just outside the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) zone, and is a five-minute walk from Nicoll Highway MRT station.

Under the URA's Master Plan 2014 scheme, the Beach Road/Ophir Road corridor, where Golden Mile Complex sits, is set to become a vibrant mixed-use cluster in the future.

"In the past few months, we have heard many exciting and creative ideas from developers on the adaptive reuse of Golden Mile Complex," said executive director of investment advisory Swee Shou Fern. "A recent advice from the URA would also help to provide greater clarity and guidance on the conservation requirements for the building."

Source: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/golden-mile-complex-te...

Adapted from: The Business Times, 27 March 2019

Braddell View's enbloc success may hinge on creative use of site

Belatedly or not, a behemoth has lumbered its way into Singapore's waning en bloc property market.

The gargantuan land parcel could in fact allow for ambitious tie-ups between developers and other firms, if they use their imaginations.

The 918-unit Braddell View, which was privatised from Singapore's last and biggest privatised Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estate, went up for grabs on March 27 with a reserve price of S$2.08 billion, or a land rate of S$1,199 per square foot per plot ratio.

To read more: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/braddell-views-e...

Adapted from: The Business Times, 27 March 2019

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