Estate agent association SEAA holds first in-person industry conference

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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August 5, 2022 8:30 AM SGT
Close to 500 agents and industry partners attended the inaugural industry conference organised by SEAA. (Picture: SEAA)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - The Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA), the largest industry representative body for real estate salespersons in Singapore, held its first in-person conference for agents on July 27.
The conference “Thriving in Tomorrow’s Real Estate Business: Gearing up for what’s coming” was attended by close to 500 real estate agents.
The conference was organised by SEAA as a platform for agents to hear insights from government agencies and industry players about how the real estate industry could transform and evolve in a post-Covid environment.
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Keynote speakers included Adele Tan, group director of strategic planning at URA; Serene Tay, industry partner at SLA; Lee Nai Jia, former deputy director at the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at NUS; and Patrick Tan, founder and CEO of Fortis Law.
Tan of URA shared key elements of Singa- pore’s Long-Term Plan Review, a 50-year urban plan that maps out the country’s strategic land uses and infrastructure needs. Meanwhile, Tay of SLA shared features of One-Map, the definitive national map database developed by SLA.
Lee Nai Jia laid out various publicly available property data that agents could use to add value to their services, while Patrick Tan of Fortis Law explained various strategies to structure property transactions for high-net-worth clients.
The one-day conference concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Eddie Lim, an exco member of SEAA and senior vice-president of PropNex Realty.
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SEAA - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
From left, the panel moderator Eddie Lim, exco member of SEAA and senior vice-president of PropNex Realty; Chia I-Ling, director, policy & professional development, CEA; Patrick Tan, founder and CEO of Fortis Law; Lee Nai Jia formerly of NUS; Bernard Tong, CEO of The Edge Singapore/EdgeProp Singapore; and Bruce Lye, 1st vice-president of SEAA and managing partner at SRI. (Picture: SEAA)
Besides Lee and Tan, the panellists included Chia I-Ling, director, policy & professional development at the Council for Estate Agencies; Bruce Lye, 1st vice-president of SEAA and managing partner at Singapore Realtors Inc (SRI); and Bernard Tong, CEO of The Edge Singapore/EdgeProp Singapore.
During the panel discussion, questions were directed to Chia of CEA regarding how the regulator manages complaints from the public and how it plans to raise the level of professionalism among real estate agents.
Lye shared his experiences and growth journey developing his agency from the ground up and advised new real estate agents on how they can find their unique selling point to avoid feeling disadvantaged compared to more experienced agents.
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Meanwhile, Bernard Tong shared how platforms such as EdgeProp Singapore act as enablers for the industry rather than disruptors. He added that the availability of property-related research tools available to agents and consumers on platforms such as EdgeProp heightens market knowledge and helps all parties.
Since its inception in 2016, SEAA has grown to become the largest industry association to represent real estate salespersons in Singapore.
According to Edmund Toh, CEO of SEAA, the group has more than 5,200 members who include property agents from all age groups and agencies. Over the next few years, the association aims to double its membership size and reach out to younger and newer agents to join its ranks, says Toh.
“SEAA plays an important part in the local real estate industry because we can be a unified voice for all the salespersons in Singapore,” says Toh. He adds that the association has close ties with all the agencies and industry stakeholders such as CEA.
In November last year, SEAA and CEA jointly led an alliance of agencies and property portals to form the Alliance for Action on Property Listings, which aims to eliminate the longstanding problem of dummy and duplicate listings. Members of the alliance include PropNex Realty, ERA Realty, OrangeTee & Tie, Huttons Asia, SRI and EdgeProp Singapore.
EDMUND TOH - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Toh: SEAA plays an important part in the local real estate industry because we can be a unified voice for all the salespersons in Singapore. (Picture: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore)
This initiative is part of a broader plan to boost the overall professionalism of real estate agents in Singapore, says Toh. “Property agents largely take on a brokerage role in the market and manage transactions for their clients. But we hope to broaden the capabilities of our salespersons and transition them towards the role of a trusted advisor for consumers,” he says.
This means that agents need to have a stronger set of industry knowledge and new skillsets that include financial planning and basic legal advice, says Toh.
In his role as CEO of SEAA, Toh says that he is working on several initiatives to enhance training for agents and agency leaders, as well as prepare agents to face changes in the future.
“One of my key priorities is to help raise the professionalism of agents by conducting CPD courses by SEAA that benefit agents, and SEAA is working to increase our line-up of approved courses that will include relevant courses for agency leaders as well,” says Toh.
Continuing Professional Development or CPD courses is a key component of CEA’s regulatory framework to achieve higher professional standards in the real estate agency industry. All CEA-registered agents are required to complete several courses each year to renew their licence.
Another project Toh is working on at SEAA is a digital platform to showcase the track re- cord and profile of members that also includes excellence awards handed out by the association. These awards are presented during SEAA’s annual Real Estate Agents Excellence Awards which have been running since 2020.
The next Real Estate Agent’s Excellence Awards by SEAA will be held in September.
Looking ahead, Toh says that the real estate agency industry needs to continue the current momentum of digital adoption to stay relevant. This comes as many elements of the work traditionally done by agents, such as filing transactions and marketing properties, are increasingly done through online portals and social media, he says.
In 2023, members can look forward to at- tending another industry conference organised by SEAA, as well as a continuation of the Real Estate Agent’s Excellence Awards. SEAA will also organise sharing sessions to engage regularly with agents, says Toh.

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