Government data could be just a click away for property agents in future: Desmond Lee

SINGAPORE - Property agents may be able to verify basic property information by tapping government data in automated checks.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee floated the idea on Tuesday (Aug 15) at a real estate industry event.

He said the suggestion, which is still being studied, is part of a push to use technology to boost productivity in the property transaction process.

Mr Lee was giving an update on the ministry's Real Estate Industry Transformation Map, announced in March.

He added that the industry must contend with "the new realities" of slower economic and workforce growth.

"What this means is that all parts of our economy, including the real estate industry, will need to drive future growth by maximising our existing manpower and actively seizing new growth opportunities, both at home and abroad."

Mr Lee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs, said that embracing technology would help meet changing consumer expectations, as buyers and sellers are now more comfortable going it alone with digital aids.

"Today, there are still a lot of manual processes in a property transaction, which can be time-consuming," he told his audience at the PropNex Quarterly Convention at Kallang Theatre.

"If these are reduced, property agents can focus more of their time on higher-value work such as giving quality advice, personal touch, the human touch, and offering additional services to their customers."

Government data that could be made available for automated verification includes information such as clients' ownership of a property, its floor area or prospective foreign tenants' immigration status.

"This is not a straightforward matter as we also have to protect the confidentiality of Singaporeans' personal details. But I think this is something worth pursuing seriously," said Mr Lee.

He added that another way to use technology to enhance professionalism in the industry involves putting online agents' track records for customers to rate and review.

"This is an aspect which (the Council for Estate Agencies) will continue to encourage and study how to bring about wider acceptance and adoption within our industry," he said.