Following the government’s moves to regulate the real estate industry, the number of property agents in Singapore has fallen but not as much as initially feared.

So far, the number of approved property-sales agents is 27,754, higher than the 20,000 estimated by property agency owners quoted in an October 21 Straits Times report.

A week after the report, the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA), the new statutory board under the Ministry of National Development (MND), said 32,800 agents had conformed to the minimum requirements for accreditation. The figure has since been reduced, as about 4,836 applicants failed industry examinations or left the industry.

“One possible reason for the reduction in the number of salespersons registered is that many were working on a part-time basis before and have now decided to leave the industry because of the greater transparency and higher standards,” said a CEA spokesperson in an email reply to my paper.

Another 210 applicants were disqualified, mainly because of their criminal records, said CEA on Wednesday.

Starting Saturday, they will no longer be able to practise their profession.

A voluntary accreditation programme currently allows agents to rejoin the industry following the completion of their jail terms.

However, all these will change with the launch of a public register of licensed property companies and their agents next year.

In addition to each agent’s name, name of his company, registration and licence numbers, other details like awards conferred by CEA, licence validity period and disciplinary action under the Estate Agents Act 2010 will be available on the website of CEA. Starting March 1, recent pictures of every real estate agent will also be available.

These moves come after a rising number of complaints filed against real estate agents.