When you hear the word "property agent" in Malaysia, it can sometimes bring to mind either one of these two images:
- Well-dressed individuals in stylish yet professional clothes, who are sharing their success and/or tips on Facebook.
- Slick commission-chasers who are trying to make a big buck from homebuyers that know none the better.
But aside from the few rotten apples (a.k.a. scammers), most property agents are honest, hardworking, reliable, and can make a huge difference in your property-selling process!
Considering that a property is likely to be the single biggest financial decision for most people – it’s worth taking the time to understand the property agent scene in Malaysia.
From how to engage a good agent, to tips on how to become one yourself – you might just find your viewpoint towards these professionals changing for the better after reading this guide!
1) Do you know the difference between a Real Estate Agent (REA) and a Real Estate Negotiator (REN)?
If you just went, "Huh, don't those two terms mean the same thing?", you couldn't be further from the truth.
Most Malaysians tend to use the title “property agent” as a blanket term, so when they’re faced with the term Real Estate Negotiator (REN) as well, there's sure to be some confusion.
Well, don’t be one of the confused few! REAs and RENs are two different titles, and actually have very clear-cut distinctions.
Knowing how a Real Estate Agent (REA) differs from a Real Estate Negotiator (REN) is the first step in getting yourself valuable knowledge. Here are some quick tips:
- REAs will have a name tag that is blue; RENs will have a name tag which is red.
- REAs are allowed to open their own firm, and have up to 30 negotiators under them; RENs cannot, and thus must be linked to a registered real estate firm before they can begin work.
A real estate firm can be operated by just one individual (sole-proprietorship), two partners (partnership), or a corporate body (Sdn. Bhd.)
Only those registered with the board are allowed to set-up a firm; for sole-proprietorships and partnerships, the proprietor and both partners must be registered.
For a corporate body, at least two directors need to be registered. That being said though, the majority of directors in the firm must be a registered person. If the firm has 5 directors, at least 3 of them have to be registered.
2) Know about the existence of regulatory bodies
The misconception that property agents are out to con you of your hard-earned money may have started from the wrong idea that anyone can take up the career as and when they want to.
All they need to do is respond to one of those Facebook job postings, right? Not exactly so.
REAs and RENs are strictly regulated by a governing board under the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. That board is the BOVAEA (Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers).
Individuals who undergo the process of becoming a REN or REA will have to go through BOVAEA, no questions about it!
You can think of this regulatory body as the big guys who keep a strict and close watch on the estate agency profession as a whole.
Though RENs need not be officially registered with BOVAEA unlike REAs, they’re still assigned a corresponding REN number, and should have a QR code on their tag.
Simply scan their QR code with your phone’s camera, and all the negotiator’s information (and photo too!) should pop up as proof of identity.
Putting BOVAEA aside, there’s also the MIEA (Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents). While BOVAEA regulates RENs and REAs, the MIEA represents them.
They provide valuable courses (such as training, education, and examination) to support and develop real estate professionals, as well as uphold a strict code of conduct and ethics to ensure there are no fraudulent cases.
3) So, what does a property agent actually do?
Due to the complicated and volatile nature of the property market, most of us average Malaysians will need help from A-Z: renting, buying and/or selling our property.
But to find out the best deals that suit our needs most would require a certain wealth of insider information. Plus, to sell off a property at the right price and to the right person takes a lot of time and effort…
This is where RENs and REAs come in. Armed with REALLY valuable skills that they've developed across the years, here's how their services can prove to be invaluable:
- On the back-end: Property agents have a solid database of professional contacts from years of working in the industry, and know the market like the back of their hand.
- On the front-end: They help market your property efficiently, bring prospects for viewing, and use their persuasiveness to help close the deal for you.
4) Is hiring a property agent worth it?
Just as it isn’t technically necessary to hire a lawyer to help you draft your Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA), it also isn’t a requirement that you engage the help of a property agent.
But the same concept applies – unless you’re as well-versed in the field as those who've worked years in it, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
Ask yourself these questions to further help you make up your mind:
- Are you truly willing to spend all that time and effort in dealing with prospective buyers?
Prepare for lots of (sometimes pointless) enquiries, tonnes of calls and messages, countless rushed trips to the property, and a whole lot of precious energy wasted.
- Do you know exactly how to price your property, or market it, for that matter?
If you’ve enlisted the help of a good agent, he or she should know the market price of properties in your area. Crafting eye-catching listings which paint your home in the best light should be second nature to them too!
- Do you know what you should be looking out for when it comes to a potential buyer or property?
A good property agent can help you spot telltale problems like leaks and mould, which you might otherwise overlook as a buyer.
And for sellers who are inexperienced, they'll be at a loss when it comes to filtering out genuine buyers from the rest, unlike agents who would have probably developed a sixth sense for it!
Sure, an agent will cost you 2-3% of the property’s sale price in commission. But don’t overlook the fact that agents are like a one-stop powerhouse to oversee the transaction from start to finish!
5) What are some tips on how to hire a good property agent?
You now know how to differentiate a Real Estate Negotiator (REN) from a Real Estate Agent (REA), and are ready to hire one.
But do you know how to differentiate a good agent from a bad one, or better yet – avoid the scammers?
You can conduct a quick search on your agent through http://search.lppeh.gov.my/ with their registration number, or scan the QR code on their ID tag. If nothing comes up in the database about the agent, talk to the real estate firm they’re supposedly representing!
Why? That’s because if an REN has resigned or been terminated, they're not allowed to hold on to their ID tag and must surrender it immediately to the firm, which will then pass it on to BOVAEA.
A less-than-ideal individual will pocket your hard-earned cash, then disappear. So, if you want to avoid becoming a victim, make sure to ask these 7 questions when looking for a reputable agent, and watch out for these 5 red flags!
6) How do I become a property agent?
Whether you find yourself lured by the promise of a vast income, or truly want to help people find their dream homes, the path to a lucrative career as a property agent is not as easy as people think.
It starts with determining whether you’d like to be a Real Estate Negotiator (REN) or Real Estate Agent (REA).
While both are able to work with property and earn big, the process to becoming a qualified REA is a lot longer than becoming a REN.
For starters, an REA would need to sit for 2 years of courses AND undergo 2 years of practical training, whereas an REN would just need to go through a 2-day programme.
You can find our full, in-depth guide here on how to become a property agent in Malaysia, including how you can also join as an agent with PropertyGuru Malaysia!
Having a trusty property agent to help you in your buying, renting or selling journey can help you expertly navigate “potholes” you would otherwise fall into – be it legal, financial or property-related.
If you don’t know one however, the next best thing would be to get educated. Our list of guides on working with agents is probably the best place to start!
However, don’t forget to equip yourself with these 6 things you should know about property agents before enlisting their help! These tips might just save you from working with a fraudulent agent.
1) Is it a Real Estate Agent (REA) or a Real Estate Negotiator (REN)?
- An REA will have a blue name tag whereas an REN will have a red one.
- REAs can open their own firm, but RENs cannot and must be attached to a registered firm before they can work.
2) What regulatory bodies are there?
- BOVAEA (Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers) which regulates REAs and RENs.
- MIEA (Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents) which represents REAs and RENs.
3) What is a property agent’s REAL job?
- Well-versed with the property market plus a big database of professional contacts.
- Helps you market your property, bring-in buyers, and closes deals!
4) Is it worth enlisting a property agent?
- Yes, if you want to make things easier for you! If there’s no agent, here’s what you’ll have to deal with:
- Marketing and pricing your property well.
- Dealing with prospective buyers.
- Filtering problems that may affect purchasing decisions.
- Preparing lots of documents all by yourself.
5) How can I hire a good property agent?
- Conduct a quick search on http://search.lppeh.gov.my/ with their registration number, or scan the QR code on their tag.
- If there’s nothing in the database, talk to the firm they’re attached to.
*If an REA/REN has resigned or been terminated, they must surrender their ID tag immediately to the firm which will pass it on to BOVAEA.*
6) How can I become a property agent?
- To be an REA: Sit for 2 years of courses and 2 years practical training.
- To be an REN: Sit for a 2-day programme.