5 Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Property Agent In Malaysia

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
5 Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Property Agent In Malaysia
Property agents are licensed and recognised by the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA).
They’re also known as real estate agents (REA), and can be regarded as specialists in the property industry.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, chances are you’ll turn to one for help with your property transactions.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling your property in Malaysia, engaging an excellent property agent can do wonders for you.
Before you deal with them, here are some of the things you should know beforehand.

1. Real Estate Negotiators Are Different From Real Estate Agents

Female real estate agent giving keys to excited couple
You may have heard the term REN, which stands for real estate negotiator. When someone is a REN, they’re not the same as real estate agents (REA).

1(a) Real Estate Negotiators Are Not Agents

REN is usually regarded as a junior, compared to an REA. In order to deal in the real estate industry, they must first work for an authorised firm and begin with an official REN tag issued by the BOVAEA.
They’re not allowed to have their own property agency, and must always be operating under a registered real estate firm.
In other words, they’re agents in training to become a true REA in the future.
Different from an REA, REN needs to attend the Negotiator’s Certification Course (NCC), acquire a certificate of attendance, and submit basic paperwork in order to start working in a real estate firm.
The easiest way to identify a REN is by checking their REN tag that’ll always be in red. An official REN tag looks something like this:

1(b) Real Estate Agents Are Certified Professionals

REAs are property professionals fully certified and registered under the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BOVAEA).
This board is responsible for the regulation of valuers, property managers and estate agents within Malaysia. Their key responsibilities includes:
  • To keep and maintain the following:
    • Register of Valuers
    • Appraisers
    • Estate Agents and Property Managers
    • Probationary Valuers and Probationary Estate Agents and firms of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents
  • To approve and reject applications for registration
  • To hold disciplinary proceedings
  • To conduct examinations
  • To prescribe scale of fees
  • To regulate the professional Conduct/ Ethics of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents, and Property Managers
  • To award scholarships
Therefore, anyone who calls themselves a real estate agent and offers property for sale, rent, or lease must be registered with BOVAEA.
As a proof of certification, a real estate agent will be issued with a blue tag that’s different from what’s given to a real estate negotiator.
If the agent you’re interviewing doesn’t have the appropriate credentials, you might end up becoming a victim of fraud.
The process of becoming an REA is complicated – they need to undergo many comprehensive examinations, and require at least 2 years of working experience under another REA.
When everything is completed, only then they’re allowed to start their own real estate firm and employ up to 30 RENs.
Owners of real estate firms must be registered with BOVAEA, and these firms can be set up in the form of a sole-proprietorship, partnership, or a corporate body (also known as a Sdn. Bhd.)
For a sole-proprietorship and partnership, the proprietor and both partners must be registered with the board.
On the other hand, firms that are corporate bodies must have at least two directors registered with the board, with the majority being registered. For example, if there are 5 directors, at least 3 must be registered.
Real estate firms are required to operate from strictly business premises, and they’re not allowed to work out of virtual offices or shared business centres (like co-working spaces).
Still confused? Here’s a more detailed guide to the roles of REN and REA for you:

2. Engaging A Real Estate Agent Is Like Hiring An Employee

Real estate agent with model house
When you engage a real estate agent, it’s no different from hiring someone to work for you as an employee.
Just like how you’d screen for a potential candidate, you’ll want to run some background checks and have interviews with them.
You’ll want to look at the agent’s previous and current portfolios, and also take note of their experience with the kind of property you’re going to assign to them.
It’s an extra point for them too if the agent has been recommended by your friends and family.
A good property agent can be of great help – they’ll set the right price, market the home well, screen potential buyers, and conduct all the negotiations on your behalf.
In short, they can be a good investment that saves up a lot of your time and effort in managing your property transactions.

3. Charges For A Real Estate Agent Can Only Cost So Much

Since real estate agents are regulated by BOVAEA, the same goes for their fees.
The maximum they can charge is 3% on any sales transaction, regardless of whether the buyer or seller pays for it. However, they’re entitled to a minimum fee of RM1,000.
These charges don’t apply to foreign properties that are marketed in Malaysia, or Malaysian properties marketed abroad.
Property agents may also charge for additional costs such as marketing materials (brochures, flyers, media advertisements) and transportation costs.
However, your property agent should discuss these additional costs with you beforehand.
For more details, here’s a guide for all charges from a property agent that you ought to know:

4. The Types Of Arrangements That You Can Make With Real Estate Agents

Real estate agent showing the effective date of lease
Within the realm of real estate, there are a variety of properties. The same can be said of real estate agents, in terms of how they can help you sell your property.
The following are the different kinds of arrangements you can have with property agents:
  • Exclusive agents: You’re allowed to appoint only 1 agent, and you can’t sell the property on your own.
  • Sole agents: Just like exclusive agents, you’re allowed with only 1 agent – but you can also sell your property on your own.
  • Joint agency: You may appoint 2 to 3 agents to sell your property, and all agents have to be aware of each other’s appointment.
  • Sole Joint agency: You and your appointed agent work together to sell the property, and the profits are to be divided based on prior agreements.
  • Ad hoc/ General: This is also known as an ‘open listing’ – you can appoint any number of agents, and all appointments have to be contracted in writing.
It’s important to make sure that you and your agent(s) are both on the same page regarding the arrangement, so as to avoid disputes during the execution of an agreement.

5. How Does A Real Estate Agent Market Your Property

The only reason you’ll engage a real estate agent is for the expertise needed in selling your property.
To align yourself with their perspective, do ask your agent on how he or she plans to advertise your property – will the agent be using social media, flyers, email marketing or other advertising methods?
It’s a part of their obligation to walk you through their marketing plan and explain each aspect of it.
That way, you can understand what your agent plans to do, and thus communicate better on your satisfaction with their performance accordingly.
At the end of the day, you need to be convinced that the property agent you’re hiring is the best fit for the job.

As a starter, you may begin your search for an agent through our Real Estate Agent Portal. If this is your first time selling a house, arm yourself with knowledge on the entire process with our complete guide to selling a house in Malaysia.