Making real estate sector safe for business
Kenya’s real estate sector is the goose that keeps laying the golden egg. Every year, it mints fresh millionaires and makes others billionaires. Even in the worst of economic times such as during the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago, real estate remained on one of the most promising businesses.
Research by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and other independent surveys shows that the sector has defied the impact of the pandemic and the country’s current economic turbulence to post reasonable growth in almost every quarter. This goes to prove that real estate is truly a hedge against inflation.
But how do you ensure an economically-vibrant industry like real estate, which brings together players from diverse backgrounds, operates smoothly, devoid of chaos? How do you ensure players are ethical and investors feel safe?
The short answer is: Through regulation. In Kenya, the responsibility to regulate real estate agents lies with the Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB).
Estate Agents Registration Board’s watchdog role
Deriving its mandate from the Estate Agents Act Cap 533, the Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB) is the regulatory body for the estate agency practice in Kenya. Its core mandate is to register estate agents and to protect investors by ensuring high standards of estate agency services. As a semi-autonomous government agency, EARB is the sole statutory body mandated under Kenyan law to oversee and regulate the real estate sector.
EARB ensures that real estate agents and property managers operate within the law, adhere to ethical standards, and maintain the highest level of professionalism in their dealings. It ensures that the interest of the public is protected and that property buyers and sellers can conduct their dealings in a conducive environment that offers fair competition and fosters investor confidence.
Kenya currently has 3,000 registered estate agents. To be registered as an agent, you must meet the necessary requirements, adhere to professional standards, and comply with the code of conduct developed by the Board. The board has rolled out a massive recruitment drive that will see over 10,000 estate agents register
EARB is also mandated with promoting professionalism and ethical practices within the real estate sector. It works closely with registered estate agents and property managers, providing guidance, training, and support to enhance their skills, knowledge, and integrity. The goal is to foster a culture of professionalism that benefits both industry professionals and the public at large.
Equally important is EARB’s arbiter role in case of complaints and disputes arising from real estate transactions. The board has put in place mechanisms to receive, investigate, and resolve complaints lodged against registered estate agents and property managers. In addition, the board has a robust disciplinary process for errant members. This helps maintain high standards of service delivery and ensures investors’ rights are protected.
Benefits of being a registered estate agent
Being a registered estate agent or property manager comes with several perks. Here are the main ones:
Credibility: Registration is a demonstration that you meet the necessary qualifications and standards set by the regulatory body (EARB). This enhances your reputation as a professional and earns you the trust of clients.
Legitimacy and trust: Registration is proof that you adhere to professional standards and ethics. This boosts your chances of attracting potential buyers and sellers and property owners seeking management services.
Code of ethics: All registered estate agents commit to upholding a strict code of ethics, which requires them to operate with integrity, professionalism, and accountability. Adhering to the code of ethics reinforces an agent’s commitment to serving clients’ best interests and contributing to building a positive image of the profession.
Networking opportunities: Registering as an estate agent opens doors to networking events, seminars, and conferences within the real estate sector. These platforms allow you to connect with other professionals, developers, and potential clients, thus expanding your business opportunities.
Business referrals: Registration makes it easy for fellow estate agents and others who know what you do to refer clients to you. They rest easy, knowing the clients they referred to you are in safe hands. Referrals are a great way to grow your business
Legal protection: Registered estate agents enjoy the protection of the law and can sue a client who reneges on the contract. Unregistered agents, on the other hand, cannot take to court a client who refuses to pay for services rendered. Worse, unregistered estate agents risk being jailed for operating illegally.
Advocacy: Registered real estate agents can legitimately lobby the government and other agencies for favourable policies and legislation. Unregistered agents lack the legitimacy to participate in any efforts to bring about change in the sector.
Professional development: As a bona fide estate agent, you’re required to keep learning and improving your skills by participating in continuous professional development programmes that involve your peers. This keeps you up-to-date with industry best practices so that you’re able to provide superior services to clients.
Mushrooming of amorphous associations
Lately, the sector has witnessed the proliferation of new associations that purport to register and champion the interests of real estate agents and property managers. Truth be told, these are charlatans. Most of them are mutations of land buying companies that have previously swindled unsuspecting Kenyans out of their hard- earned money, selling them air instead of land.
The Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB) would like to warn Kenyans that these groupings have no mandate to register estate agents. They are neither registered nor regulated by the government and anyone associating with them risks being conned. For the avoidance of doubt, EARB is the only body mandated under the law to regulate estate agency practice in Kenya.
The Estate Agents Act Cap 533 clearly gives authority to EARB to register and regulate anyone involved in the selling, purchasing, or letting of land and buildings on behalf of a property owner. Having another body regulate property agents would amount to double legislation.
Creation of parallel, unregulated, and illegal associations can only lead to chaos and confusion in an industry that has been bedevilled by illegalities and irregularities in the past, including land grabbing and fake titles. It is therefore essential to have one central point of reference with a regulatory body properly created under the law. The Board has the necessary expertise, legal authority and accountability structures to regulate the sector and safeguard investors.
What we must all do
The Board wants to urge all associations and industry practitioners to abide by and support the regulatory framework established by law, which provides a robust foundation for the industry’s growth.
The public should be wary of the new associations and only deal with estate agents registered and licensed by EARB. The public should also report cases of fraud or malpractice by estate agents to EARB.
The Board wishes to encourage anyone irregularly practising as an estate agent to seek registration. They should get in touch with the Board for advice on the registration process or get the registration details on the Board’s website.
Finally, the Board would like to urge the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe all fraudulent land buying companies.
2nd Estate Agents Conference
The Estate Agents Conference is the brainchild of the Estate Agents Registration Board and brings together major real estate firms, developers, top property agents, industry regulators, consultants, government agencies, financiers, and other players to exchange ideas and learn from one another.
The 2nd Estate Agents Conference, whose theme is “Re-Engineering Real Estate for Emerging Realities”, will be held on 6th October, 2023 at Safari Park Hotel. Speakers will include top government officials and seasoned real estate experts, with 600 delegates expected to attend.
It will provide a platform for participants to engage in meaningful conversations, forge valuable connections, and build relationships with fellow professionals and key industry players.
To participate, you can register either as a delegate or as a sponsor. Please find below the registration details:
Registration link: https://bit.ly/3AuppK1
Registration link: https://bit.ly/3VcPQNz
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
Facebook: Estate Agents Registration Board Twitter: @AgentsboardKE
LinkedIn: Estate Agents Registration Board