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Speech by Minister of State for Finance and Transport Mrs Lim Hwee Hua at The Launch of The Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies Scheme on 11 November 2005

11 Nov 2005

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

1. I am delighted to be with you today to launch the accreditation scheme for estate agencies.

2. Estate agents play an important role in the process of buying, selling or renting a home. As Singaporeans become more sophisticated and discerning, it is important that estate agents upgrade their knowledge and raise their service levels so as to continue to add value to their clients. For instance, an estate agent should be familiar with the latest rules and regulatory fees that are relevant to property transactions. He should be able to advise his client so that the client can make an informed decision to buy or sell a property. Agents who behave in an unprofessional manner give their clients and the general public a poor impression of the industry.

3. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore licenses some 2,000 estate agencies today. The main preoccupation of these agencies should be that of ensuring that their agents provide quality professional services to their clients. For these reasons, an estate agency accreditation scheme has been jointly developed by a working committee consisting of representatives from the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, the Institute of Estate Agents, the Ministry of Finance, the Housing & Development Board and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. An accredited agency would be required to ensure that their agents meet the necessary qualifications and adhere to a specific code of conduct as well as guidelines devised by the accreditation body.

4. This scheme marks yet another milestone in the evolving regulatory environment in Singapore where the private sector progressively assumes more regulatory responsibilities. After the initial implementation stages, the government agencies will take a step back and allow SISV and IEA to run the scheme. This is consistent with the government's approach of minimising regulations on businesses where possible.

5. However, the success of the estate agencies accreditation scheme depends on the strong support of industry players such as yourselves. By joining the accreditation scheme, an estate agency underscores its commitment to a certain code of conduct and high standards of service. I believe that over time, discerning Singaporeans will recognise that agents from accredited agencies can provide better and more reliable services.

6. I urge all qualified estate agencies to join the scheme. Those who do not qualify now can encourage your agents to take the necessary examinations and join the scheme when you are ready. To signal the government's support for the scheme, I am happy to announce that IRAS will waive or refund the House Agent's Licence fee for 2006 for any firm that gets accredited by 31 December 2006.

7. As estate agencies and agents recognise the important role that a good system of accreditation plays in securing the trust of property market players, the industry will be elevated to a higher level.

8. On this note, it is my pleasure to launch the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies Scheme.

9. Thank you.