Key initiatives to future-proof real estate sector unveiled at SEAA Excellence Awards

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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September 22, 2022 12:00 PM SGT
From left: Thomas Tan, SEAA secretary; Adam Wang, SEAA president; Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for National Development and for Communications and Information; Lim Chee Hwee, executive director of CEA; and Edmund Toh, CEO of SEAA (Picture: SEAA)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - A slew of industry initiatives and updates were announced during the Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA) SG Real Estate Agents Excellence Awards on Sept 9.
This was the third consecutive year the awards were organised by SEAA, the largest representative body for real estate salespersons in Singapore. The event recognises outstanding performance by real estate agents in Singapore.
The event was graced by Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for National Development and for Communications and Information. In his opening speech, he also unveiled key initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map 2025 (Real Estate ITM 2025).
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Real Estate ITM 2025

The Real Estate ITM 2025 is an industry roadmap featuring sector-wide strategies that aim to better prepare the real estate industry to be future-ready. The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the industry regulator for real estate salespersons, will drive the implementation of the Real Estate ITM 2025 alongside industry partners and stakeholders.
“I thank all industry leaders and partners in the real estate sector for actively contributing to discussions and collectively shaping the Real Estate ITM 2025. Our vision is that consumers will be served by property agents who are client-centric and professional and who will uphold the highest standards of integrity,” says Tan.
The Real Estate ITM 2025 will focus on three strategies: improve the digitalisation of property transaction processes, promote a more widespread technology adoption among property agencies, and enhance the value-add of agents through a new framework of skills development.
Real Estate Industry Transformation Map 2025 - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE

Improving confidence in digital transaction process

The Real Estate ITM 2025 highlighted the importance of reinforcing confidence in the existing digitalised property transaction process. This is hampered by the longstanding problem of dummy, unauthorised, inaccurate, or duplicate property listings that proliferate on property listing portals.
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Under the Real Estate ITM 2025, the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Accurate Property Listings will roll out a prototype digital platform by 1H2023 to tackle this problem.
The AfA is co-led by SEAA, property listings portals PropertyGuru and 99.co, the five largest property agencies (PropNex Realty, ERA Realty, Huttons Asia, OrangeTee & Tie, and SRI), as well as property listing and news portal EdgeProp Singapore.
The prototype platform will conduct verification checks on online property listings before they can be published by licensed property agents and agencies, and assign each listing with a unique serial number to avoid duplicate listings. The AfA is also working with CEA to link the public register of licensed salespersons with the prototype platform, to alert consumers and agents to possible impersonation scams.
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workflow - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Infographic: CEA
According to CEA, the prototype platform will only serve as a proof-of-concept from which CEA will develop an operational full-scale platform in the future.
Some of the government’s property-related online portals will also be enhanced to offer a more comprehensive digital service integration. For example, the HDB Flat Portal will incorporate three new features: migrating the HDB Flat Eligibility letter online, an integrated loan application service with participating financial institutions, and an online guide for first-time home buyers. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)

SMEs Go Digital

The Real Estate ITM 2025 also aims to promote more robust technology adoption among property agencies, with more emphasis and support provided to small and medium-sized agencies to build up their digital capabilities.
Last year, CEA partnered the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to introduce pre-approved sector-specific digital solutions as part of the government’s SMEs Go Digital programme. For real estate agencies, these solutions introduce digital capabilities to raise overall productivity and funding support to cover some implementation costs.
Approved digital solutions include document management, transaction records submission, account management, customer relationship management, and human resource management.
IMDA and CEA also launched an assessment programme called Chief Technology Officer (CTO)-as-a-service. This enables property agencies to engage IMDA-approved consultants to perform an assessment of their company’s digital readiness, needs, and gaps, as well as manage the implementation of digitalisation projects.

Revamped CPD ecosystem

The final strategic focus of the Real Estate ITM 2025 seeks to enhance the skills development of licensed property agents. This is also led by CEA, which is reviewing the existing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) ecosystem, collaborating with agencies, industry associations, and course providers.
The CPD is a mandatory requirement in the renewal licensing and new licensing conditions for real estate salespersons in Singapore. Agents must complete a stipulated number of course credits and non-compliance results in their removal from the public register.
CEA will announce how it intends to revamp the CPD ecosystem by the end of 1H2023.
One area that the regulator says it will focus on is the digital marketing skills of property agents. The digital marketing trend accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic and has gained broad acceptance among buyers and sellers.

2021 Public Perception Survey

CEA’s move to zero in on the digital marketing skills and digital literacy of property agents is in line with the latest Public Perception Survey it conducted last year.
The survey is held every three years by CEA since 2012. CEA uses this survey to gauge consumers’ perception of the services rendered by property agents in Singapore.
In the 2021 survey, 648 survey respondents had engaged with the services of a property agent over the past year. Among this group, more than half of consumers polled indicated that their agents used property apps with pricing/valuation/financial calculation tools. About 40 per cent of these 648 consumers said that their agents used apps that featured details of properties and apps with information on property trends.
“It is encouraging that consumers recognise the value of technology in enhancing the property transaction experience. Property agents who used technology were able to adjust more nimbly to the new environment, while still providing the ‘human touch’ to their clients,” says Lim Chee Hwee, executive director of CEA.
Infographic CEA - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Infographic: CEA
According to the survey, agent satisfaction took a toll last year amid lockdown-related challenges. About 77% of surveyed respondents in 2021 were satisfied with the services provided by their property agent, a decline from both the 2018 survey (85% satisfied) and 2015 survey (79% satisfied).
Consumers listed three areas which they felt their agent could have done better: negotiating a better price, providing updated analysis about property values and market trends, and doing more research on pricing and prevailing market trends.
Only about 40% of survey respondents said that their agents used mobile applications that featured details of properties and information on property trends.
“Consumers and potential consumers place the highest emphasis on a property agent’s knowledge and expertise, ahead of the other professional attributes of ethics, conduct and service excellence,” says CEA.
Finally, more than 50% of survey respondents indicated a preference for their future property agents to continue using technology tools. This includes more online marketing, reducing door-to-door marketing and at public places, communicating with clients more frequently via online tools, and more virtual tours.

Recognising top achievers

The SEAA SG Real Estate Agents Excellence Awards saw more than 600 award participants from large to boutique-sized agencies. This is the third year that the awards have been organised.
“Many of our awardees are already stellar performers in their agencies. We are glad that [the event] helps to elevate the profile of salesperson on the national level, on top of the many awards that they received from their agencies,” says Adam Wang, president of SEAA.
Some of the award categories include the Outstanding Youths Award, the Rookies Award, and the Senior Achievers Award. Other salesperson achievement awards were presented to more than 600 recipients.
“The publishing of the award received by the awardees on their respective profiles on CEA Public Register amplifies their exemplary performance in sales and rental transactions for the year 2021, and I am sure the prestige of the awards will spur their peers to do better next year,” says Wang.
SEAA also unveiled a refreshed logo at the event. Retaining the multi-colour design of the previous logo, the new SEAA logo is meant to project the “futuristic and uplifting energy of the association”, says SEAA. The new design “represents a forward-moving association, as we aspire to move with the latest technology and better benefits for our members and partners”, says Wang.
new SEAA logo - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The new SEAA logo. (Picture: SEAA)

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