THE public has been reminded to only use the services of registered real estate agents and brokers to avoid becoming victims of fraud.
The Board of Valuers Appraisers and Estate Agents (BOVAEA) has discovered the presence of online portals and web applications marketing properties.
BOVAEA president and Valuation and Property Services director-general Faizan Abdul Rahman noted more developers are using the services of such portals to advertise their products.
“Initially, our focus was on teaching the public how to differentiate between a legal and illegal agent.
“However, now we find companies creating applications which openly market properties to the public.
“Some of these apps are telling landlords that real estate agents are not necessary.
“This can lead to problems as there is no legal protection for the parties involved,” he said, adding only trained and competent agents can market real estate.
Faizan explained that brokers are not allowed to collect a fee or deposit after closing a deal, but this is not practised by unauthorised agents.
Such cases of illegal activity are on the rise, especially with more developers utilising such portals.
“Developers should market their properties through proper channels.
“The board is open to help IT companies ensure their businesses comply with the law,” he said at a press conference held at the Valuation and Property Services Department in 1Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
The real estate industry as a whole is governed by the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 (Act 242).
BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee (EAPC) chairman and Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents deputy president Eric Lim Chin Heng said developers may not be aware of the legal consequences of using such sites.
“Anyone who abets illegal brokers can be prosecuted under Section 30 of the Act and if found guilty, can be liable to a fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment for a term not more than three years, or both. “
Last August, BOVAEA launched a six-month campaign known as C.A.M.P., which stands for Cheating, Absconding, Misinterpretation and Profiteering, to educate the public to be wary of illegal practices.
BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee member K Soma Sundram said misrepresentation is a serious offence.
“If you deal with an illegal real estate agent and anything goes wrong, we can’t do much to help you.
“But if the broker is registered under the board, we can not only take disciplinary action but also impose a maximum fine of RM25,000
“In the past, we have de-registered brokers who have sub-listed their licence to unqualified people,” he said, while adding such breaches are not common.
Soma also stressed that all real estate negotiators who are involved in property exhibitions must carry the red tag issued by BOVAEA to identify themselves.
“Many of these illegal brokers are known to duplicate our lanyards and red tags to make themselves seem legitimate.
“This is where the public really needs to check and verify by scanning the QR code on their red tags or checking with us directly,” he said.