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More people are willing to hire property agents: Survey

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Survey shows 72 per cent of public plan to engage one for future transactions

Property agents are back in fashion, according to the latest survey by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), with 72 per cent of the public saying they plan to engage one for future transactions.

This is up from 60 per cent in the last such survey in 2015 and 66 per cent in the previous one in 2012.

Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad pointed to technology and other productivity pushes - ramped up over the last year under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM) - as one reason for increased customer satisfaction.

He noted that customers whose agents used three or more tech tools, such as apps with pricing calculators and electronic forms, were more likely to be satisfied.

Also, the proportion of consumers who found their agent online has increased to about a quarter from less than 20 per cent.

"Consumers have spoken - they want the convenience provided by technological tools and the ability to search for their agents online.

"This trend is likely to continue and we will all need to adjust accordingly to meet the expectations of consumers," he said.

Mr Zaqy was speaking at the CEA's inaugural real estate agency industry conference yesterday, which was attended by 500 key executive officers and team leaders from the property sector.

Mr Lee Kwong Weng, CEA's executive director, said: "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 service to clients."

The CEA conducted its third public perception survey between May and July last year, interviewing 1,529 customers and potential customers - meaning those who have not engaged the services of property agents before.

Mr Zaqy also shared how the authorities are facilitating technological adoption, training agents and enhancing consumer trust as part of the ITM.

One change is to the Continuing Professional Development framework, which helps agents to stay relevant.

Currently, agents must take six credits a year to renew their licences, of which at least three must be from professional courses, such as those related to real estate laws and regulations.

From Oct 1, four of these credits should be from attending professional courses, and two from attending courses to improve softer skills such as creative thinking and communication.

Another change in the pipeline is a standard contract template for the resale of private residential properties, after a successful run with a template for renting homes, said Mr Zaqy.