Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Estate agents' council swamped on Day 1

THE new statutory board in charge of regulating and licensing property agents here had a rough first day of business yesterday.


The Toa Payoh premises of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) was thronged with people, mainly disgruntled property agents or their bosses, who had shown up to ask about licences that had yet to be issued or sort out property transaction disputes.


The machine issuing queue numbers was working overtime, and several people saw a few hours go up in smoke as they waited in line.


About 30 people were still there when The Straits Times dropped in at 5pm.


Premiere Realty chief executive Jimmy Ng was there to find out why his 30 agents, approved as practising agents last year, had yet to receive their licences.


After trying unsuccessfully to call the CEA's hotline for two hours, he turned up at its offices in HDB Hub at 11am.


He ended up spending the afternoon there, with his number finally called four hours later - only for him to be told that more waiting was in store: It would take another three days for the CEA to process the licences.


Sounding irritated, he said: 'I'm running a business. I have five cases on hand right now that I can't work on because we can't do anything until we get our licences.


'Making us wait this long is just ridiculous. Our clients will be very unhappy with us,' he complained.


The CEA, set up last year following long-running complaints about a lack of professionalism and unethical practices among property agents, required Singapore's 32,800 existing property agents to register with it.


About 27,800 did so, and after the CEA had them sit and pass examinations or show they had brokered at least three deals in the past two years, it entered their names into a public online database.


Among the regulations the CEA started enforcing at the start of the new year is one that requires all agents to be licensed in order to carry out property transactions.


At what was supposed to have been the close of the business day yesterday, some people were seen dozing on the couches in the CEA's reception area, while others stood glumly in the lift lobby comparing queue numbers.


Two counters in the reception area, a makeshift one outside and some offices at the back of the premises were handling the visitors' queries.


HSR Property Group agent Sharon Chong, 39, who waited more than three hours for advice on a transaction dispute, said: 'The wait is agonising, but there's clearly a bottleneck, because they don't have enough people to handle our queries.


'I'm tired of waiting, but my case is urgent and I need the answer today.'


The CEA, responding to questions from The Straits Times, said it put six customer service officers and a manager on duty yesterday to handle queries on licences or accept re-submitted applications that were previously incomplete.


About 200 people showed up based on queue numbers, it said.


Said its spokesman: 'We have placed a priority on handling licensing and registration queries, and are beefing up counter service to register those who walk in as soon as possible if they are eventually found to be eligible.'


She added that there were no plans to open more counters in the office. Estate agents' council swamped on Day 1 Straits Times: Tue, Jan 04
THE new statutory board in charge of regulating and licensing property agents here had a rough first day of business yesterday.


The Toa Payoh premises of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) was thronged with people, mainly disgruntled property agents or their bosses, who had shown up to ask about licences that had yet to be issued or sort out property transaction disputes.


The machine issuing queue numbers was working overtime, and several people saw a few hours go up in smoke as they waited in line.


About 30 people were still there when The Straits Times dropped in at 5pm.


Premiere Realty chief executive Jimmy Ng was there to find out why his 30 agents, approved as practising agents last year, had yet to receive their licences.


After trying unsuccessfully to call the CEA's hotline for two hours, he turned up at its offices in HDB Hub at 11am.


He ended up spending the afternoon there, with his number finally called four hours later - only for him to be told that more waiting was in store: It would take another three days for the CEA to process the licences.


Sounding irritated, he said: 'I'm running a business. I have five cases on hand right now that I can't work on because we can't do anything until we get our licences.


'Making us wait this long is just ridiculous. Our clients will be very unhappy with us,' he complained.


The CEA, set up last year following long-running complaints about a lack of professionalism and unethical practices among property agents, required Singapore's 32,800 existing property agents to register with it.


About 27,800 did so, and after the CEA had them sit and pass examinations or show they had brokered at least three deals in the past two years, it entered their names into a public online database.


Among the regulations the CEA started enforcing at the start of the new year is one that requires all agents to be licensed in order to carry out property transactions.


At what was supposed to have been the close of the business day yesterday, some people were seen dozing on the couches in the CEA's reception area, while others stood glumly in the lift lobby comparing queue numbers.


Two counters in the reception area, a makeshift one outside and some offices at the back of the premises were handling the visitors' queries.


HSR Property Group agent Sharon Chong, 39, who waited more than three hours for advice on a transaction dispute, said: 'The wait is agonising, but there's clearly a bottleneck, because they don't have enough people to handle our queries.


'I'm tired of waiting, but my case is urgent and I need the answer today.'


The CEA, responding to questions from The Straits Times, said it put six customer service officers and a manager on duty yesterday to handle queries on licences or accept re-submitted applications that were previously incomplete.


About 200 people showed up based on queue numbers, it said.


Said its spokesman: 'We have placed a priority on handling licensing and registration queries, and are beefing up counter service to register those who walk in as soon as possible if they are eventually found to be eligible.'


She added that there were no plans to open more counters in the office.

No comments:

Post a Comment