Singapore Council for Estate Agencies Guide: What Is The CEA?

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If you keep up with property news and regulations, you may have heard of an authority called the Council of Estate Agencies, or CEA for short. There is also a CEA Public Register, which lists all licensed property agents and salespeople, along with their track record, for people to check. 

Here's a 101-guide on what is the CEA, what they do, and how they can help property buyers and sellers like you.  

Related article: What Is The Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) in Singapore?

 

What is the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA)? 

The Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) is a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development (MND). CEA was established in late-2010 to put in place a new regulatory framework for the Singapore real estate industry.

Simply put, CEA is a watchdog formed to regulate the real estate market. This was following a sharp rise in complaints against property agencies leading up to 2009. Between 2005 and 2009, such complaints rose by 60%.

 

What does the CEA do? 

CEA’s mission is to strengthen the professionalism of the real estate agency industry and to protect the welfare of consumers. CEA aims to do so by working with the industry on development programmes, as well as educating the public through a variety of schemes.

According to CEA's official website, their responsibilities include:

  • Administer licensing regime for estate agents, including the registration of salespersons applied through licensed estate agents;
  • Regulate and control the practice of estate agents and salespersons in estate agency transactions;
  • Promote the integrity and competence of estate agents and salespersons through the Code of Practice, and Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care;
  • Develop measures to equip consumers with the necessary knowledge to conduct their real estate transactions prudently and with due diligence;
  • Conduct investigation and disciplinary proceedings in relation to offences and unsatisfactory conduct or misconduct in relation to estate agency work;
  • Administer the examination and continuing professional development framework

Specifically, these are the key elements of the CEA's regulatory framework. The CEA... 

1. Oversees the licensing for estate agents

The CEA ensures Appointed Key Executive Officer (KEO) and business entities are properly registered, experienced, qualified and have a good track record. 

2. Manages the registration of salespersons through their agents

The CEA ensures estate salespersons are qualified and have a good track record. 

3. Regulates the conduct of estate agency work

The CEA ensures good conduct among industry members, with the Code of Practice, Ethics and Professional Client Care, and standard prescribed estate agency agreements. 

4. Set up mechanisms for discipline and dispute resolution

The CEA also manages disciplinary actions such as warnings, fines, suspension and revocation, and have in place dedicated dispute resolution mechanisms that cover mediation and arbitration. 

5. Help with public education

Finally, the CEA helps with public education through the Estate Agent Card, Online Public Register of agents and salespersons, as well as seminars, forums and online consumer guides for the public. 

Read also: Demystifying 9 Legal Terms You May Encounter While Getting A Home Loan

 

Who are the CEA Council Members?

A council led by Mr Quek See Tiat currently oversees CEA. The council is made up of esteemed professionals hailing from adjacent sectors of the real estate agency industry. It also has representatives from the public sector dealing with the property industry.

Council members include senior representatives from the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Consumers Association of Singapore, Edmund Tie & Company, as well as our very own PropertyGuru Singapore Country Manager, Dr Tan Tee Khoon.

 

CEA Website and resources you may find useful 

A large part of CEA’s work involves educating the public. You can find a large and diverse repository of resources on CEA’s website targeted at both professionals and consumers.

CEA Public Register

For example, you can check if your agent is registered through the public register. You can also download CEA forms required to engage a real estate agent.

If you’re interested to find out more about a certain topic, you can find a host of useful guides and brochures here. These include tips on engaging a salesperson, buying foreign properties, and how to resolve disputes.

If you have specific questions that you need answers to, you can visit CEA’s FAQ page. The page is grouped into 17 categories and covers a wide range of topics ranging from rental transactions and commissions, to regulation and consumer education.

 

Do's and Dont's of Property Agents 

There are many things to take note of regarding how one should work with real estate agents. However,  here are some essential takeaways to remember,

  • Agents are not allowed to hold any transaction money.
  • Agents are not allowed to direct you to any moneylenders.
  • Agents are not allowed to represent you as a buyer, seller, tenant, or landlord.
  • Read more about their their duties and responsibilities here. 

In the event something goes wrong, CEA has guidelines and resources on dispute resolution. These include a list of approved dispute resolution centers, fees, and CEA dispute resolution schemes.

Need help to sell your property? Find a reliable property agent on PropertyGuru

 

How to contact CEA 

Due to COVID-19, the CEA office is closed until further notice. For enquires, you can, however, contact them via the following channels:

Website form (enquiries)

The general feedback and enquiry form is for enquiries around CEA and industry regulations, licensing, etc. 

Website complaint form 

If you have complaints about a specific agency or agent, use this CEA complaint form instead. 

CEA Quality Service Manager email 

If the feedback is not about industry members, and for CEA and their officers, then you should send an email to qsm@cea.gov.sg. 

CEA hotline number 

Finally, if you wish the speak to someone at CEA, you can call their hotline at 1800 643 2555 or +65 664 32555 (for overseas calls). 

 

More FAQs about the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) 

What is CEA Singapore?

CEA stands for the Council of Estate Agencies, which is a government watchdog of the real estate industry. 

How do I get a real estate agent licence in Singapore?

There are many criteria for applying to be a real estate agent. You must have a licensed leader (Key Executive Officer, or KEO), and not have any past records of fraud and/or dishonesty. You can check the full requirements on CEA's website.

How do I complain about a property agent in Singapore?

You may complain about your negative experience with a property agent through CEA's complaint form. 

 

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