SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has published a complete record of all residential property transactions facilitated in the past 24 months by property agents in Singapore.
Prospective buyers and sellers can now view the publicly accessible information on Housing Board flat resale and rental deals, as well as new sales, resales and rentals of private homes.
With this, consumers may have "better visibility" of the track records of Singapore's real estate salesmen, said CEA. The move to increase informational transparency comes under its Property Agents' Transaction Records Initiative (TRI).
Published on the CEA Public Register, details include when a deal was completed, the property's general location and whether the agent represented the buyer, seller, tenant or landlord.
For private housing, the records will also show the type of property - condominium, executive condominium, landed or strata-landed - and whether it was a new sale or resale deal. Rental transaction data will indicate whether the whole unit or a room was leased out.
The transaction information for each month will be updated on the 15th of the following month. Records older than 24 months from the date of access are available at data.gov.sg
Previously, CEA's website provided only data on HDB resale deals brokered by salesmen and completed within the past 24 months.
Mr Soh Cheng Hwee, CEA director (licensing), said the council has "struck a careful balance between transparency and privacy" in the amount of details provided. It does not identify specific properties and their transacted prices.
The initiative aims to empower consumers to make an informed decision when selecting an agent, Mr Soh noted. Potential clients can find out the transaction types and locations that an agent has experience in, and the recency of such experience.
"Property agents can also use these verified records to show their professional experience and specialisation in the kinds of residential transactions they have facilitated, as a way of gaining consumer confidence," he added.
CEA refined the TRI after receiving and incorporating feedback from industry stakeholders such as the real estate agency industry associations, the agencies' key executive officers, property salesmen, as well as consumers.
Dr Lee Nai Jia, deputy director at the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at the National University of Singapore, expects the enhanced initiative to benefit consumers in the long run, as the overall standard of property agencies and industry professionalism improves.
With the data, consumers are more likely to approach agents who have brokered more deals in their area, Dr Lee said.
"Hence, agencies will have to get their senior agents to mentor the junior ones if they want to expand their teams. Personal branding and quality of service will become more important for agents to have a successful career," he added.
Property agencies are required to submit the residential property transaction records of salesmen to CEA, under the amended Estate Agents Act, and ensure that the information is true and not misleading.
As for HDB resale flat transaction records, the public housing authority provides the information directly to CEA for publication.
Besides the TRI and the CEA Public Register, another initiative under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map is the Guide on Best Practices for Consumer Ratings of Property Agents.
Published in October last year, the guide aims to introduce consistent standards for the rating of property agents based on the key categories of service, professionalism and skills.