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and brokers as part of the association. This would enhance the
level of professionalism in the industry. When everyone is guided
by ethical rules and guidelines the public would benefit from it.
"A lot of it has to do with the nature of the society with people
getting away without having to operate with any guidelines. I think
agents being part of the association should be mandatory. It is a
modern society. Getting a home is one of the biggest investments
a person makes and you need to have that person give you the
right advice. We do not want people in this for the short term and
just for the commission. We want people guided by deeper prin-
Real estate legislation
Singh said legislation is important and AREA wants to promote
the Real Estate Professional Bill of 2015.
"Currently we are working on submitting the bill. We have
approached the Minister of Trade and plan to have further discussions
with him with respect to piloting the bill in Parliament. Another
challenge we face is compliance with anti-money laundering leg-
islation and collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
Our proposed legislation will help to reduce the opportunities for
any real estate agents to handle transactions in an unethical manner.
This, in turn, will deter the potential money launderer from attempt-
ing to use property as a means of laundering funds. Certainly AREA
has been very successful in helping its members to meet their indi-
vidual challenges of compliance with the FIU regulations and this
is gratifying for us," she said.
She added that the legislation would "strongly encourage" agents
to be members of the AREA.
"That would boost the membership. We would have to follow
guidelines such as to become an agent you must have basic qual-
ifications, do certain courses, continuous education programmes.
This exists in all other professions. We have been getting the support
from agencies like the FIU. We agents from AREA are not only
area agents but once you are operating in the real estate industry,
you should be registered with the FIU. "
She admits that there are some agents "operating under the
radar" and are not registered with the FIU.
"You can check on the FIU Web site. It will show you how many
agents are registered. But there are also many agents who are not
registered. Real estate is one of the biggest money laundering
avenues. That is why we want to increase our membership so
people would be guided and trained to be professionals."
She said AREA has its own disciplinary committee where it deals
She also spoke about educating members of the public about
purchasing a home and other details related to the real estate indus-
"We want to get the relevant information out there pertaining
to the association so people could be guided accordingly."
She spoke about the need for more data in the association and
the real estate industry.
"You need data so you would be able to properly price the
property. One of the things we face in the industry is that sometimes
it seems that people just wake up one day and they decide to set
a price. So if you have to insert data that you sold a property in
Port-of-Spain for a certain price where the square footage is at,
then the price would be standardised and there would be little
variation in what prices are. So the agent would be guided by a
certain figure, the owner or land lord would also have to accept
these figures as it is the norm at the going rate. If there is no data
then anything can happen," she said.
Singh said a proper data base and standardised pricing would
not only help the real estate agents but it would also help valuators,
the Government and all stockholders in the industry.
"You can go on the US real estate Web site Zillow and get figures
of a property on a specific street for a three- bedroom house and
it is very precise. We have nothing near that in T&T. Right now
we have multi-listing system but we have something in the works
which would enhance what we are doing and we will give details
about later on. This would really assist us."
there to guide'
From Page 4
President of the Association of Real Estate Agents
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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