Agents’ professional standards have improved, say property industry players

Victor Kang23 Oct 2019

A CEA spokesperson has observed an “overall decrease” in complaints relating to agents acting against their clients’ interest or unethically from 2017 to 2018. 

The professional standards of real estate agents have improved over the years, said industry players after online criticism that some of the agents failed to help their clients and to act in their best interest.

The criticism comes after PropNex Realty agent James Ngu has been fined $30,000 as well as suspended 12 months for unprofessional and unethical conduct by the Council for Estate Agents (CEA).

With this, some Facebook commentators said agents like Ngu are not new.

“As (per) my experience, there’re too many unethical and unprofessional property agents,” wrote user Derrick Woon. “They only want money.”

RELATED: 3 Times Property Agents Broke The Rules (And What You Can Do)

Thomas Tan, president of Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA), said it is unfair to paint the real estate industry with the same brush due to the actions of a few bad eggs, reported CNA.

“Improvement is definitely something that we can work on,” he said. “But if you talk about whether it’s a market norm – I think it’s not a fair statement to say that because of one or two persons’ actions.”

Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck noted that agents’ professional standards have improved since the CEA was formed in 2010, with agents now being more consultative with clients.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the industry is not really 100 percent free of black sheep. “There will be some cases here and there,” he said.

In the last five years, complaints against the real estate industry stood at 153, with the number of complaints growing to 37 last year from 29 in 2017, revealed Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) executive director Loy York Jiun.

However, a CEA spokesperson has observed an “overall decrease” in complaints relating to agents acting against their clients’ interest or unethically from 2017 to 2018.

“These form a small proportion of the complaints that CEA receives,” said the spokesperson, noting that majority of the complaints received last year involved service lapses such as poor communication and being late for viewings, which are not considered regulatory infringements.

In fact, complaints received on agents “not acting in client’s interest” fell to 39 last year from 42 in 2017, while complaints on unethical conducts by agents declined to 26 last year from 43 in 2017.

Moreover, findings from CEA’s 2018 public perception survey on the property agency industry indicated that consumer satisfaction with real estate agents has improved over the years.

In 2018, 85 percent of consumers were satisfied with their agent’s service, up from 2015’s 79 percent, while 72 percent of consumers still intends to engage the services of a real estate agent in future transaction, an increase from 60 percent in 2015.

“The uptrend in consumer satisfaction with their property agents’ services is an indication that the industry has made steady progress in raising its professionalism and ethical standards, and improving the service to its clients,” said the spokesperson.

“However, as with any other industry, there will always be errant individuals and companies. CEA will not hesitate to take the necessary and appropriate disciplinary action against such individuals and companies.”

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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