The Real Estate Agents Licensing Board hosted its first open floor session for Central division agents and salespersons in Suva this week, marking heightened efforts to engage industry opinions as more regulatory guidelines get underway. Citing documents formulated by watchdogs, Fiji Commerce Commission, Board chairman, Dr Abuld Hassan – who was recently re-elected for a second term-stated that an association of realtors would broaden their knowledge and enhance their network, amongst other benefits.
The Commission has recently formulated a series of governing guidelines, including a Code of Ethics and Codes Governing Professionalism & Standards of Competence, which Board acting CEO, Virisila Tuimanu said they were yet to have consultations for. Pressing issues raised at the meeting session centered on agent commission, and what exactly – if a percentage was to be standardized- entailed a fair cut for both agents and vendors, with one realtor insisting that commissions should only be decided between them and their clients.
“As regulators, we have to lay a fair platform for everyone, regarding commission because the market determines everything, so we can’t put a standard – even New Zealand does not have agent commissions regulated, and this is why it is necessary to have an association, to advocate issues like these,” Tuimanu said. Realtors also questioned the receiving of commission before a transaction for a sale was completed, and proposed a quota system to avoid overlapping listings by different realtors and salespersons, given Fiji’s small property market.
The issue of foreign agents entering Fiji to market properties was also highlighted; with some attendees questioning what measures had been taken to sideline these realtors. “Lately, our concern has been on the number of foreigners marketing and selling islands and hotels here. They need to get a registration certificate from Investment Fiji and obtain a license from us to practice their services here. We have received complaints of foreigners selling properties at Denarau, Taveuni and Savusavu.”
The Board has recently drawn up Memorandums of Understanding with other statutory bodies and watchdogs, including the Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority and Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit to help counter the infiltration of illegal agents, who have considerably entered the country on tourist visas to meet their clients. “The requirements for anyone carrying out local real estate work are that they must have a license and we also work with the Police, though this is only after receiving solid evidence of illegal realtors by complainants. And this also takes time with licensed agents who have complaints lodged against them- we cannot just immediately suspend their license, pending investigation. There needs to be evidence brought before us and then we’ll go to the Police.”
Tuimanu highlighted that identification cards for licensed realtors were also underway, following a slight delay as their production was recently outsourced to a private Suva company. The Real Estate Agents Licensing Board also endorsed training packages for salespersons and eventually, agents, with Expressions of Interest advertised for appropriate trainers.
The Board plans to host two more talanoa sessions on June 2, with the first to commence at the Nadi Civic Centre at 11am, followed by an another sessions at 2pm at the Lautoka City Council chambers, for Western-division agents and salespersons.
Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive news and updates about Fiji Real Estate: