In a historic first, agents and realty representatives gathered in Nadi last Monday for the National Real Estate Workshop 2016.
This was the first ever real estate workshop held in the country and was organized by the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board (REALB), to address concerns plaguing the industry.
“The workshop is treated as a pioneering effort to remove some of the major issues relating to the real estate industry in the country,” noted board chairman, Dr Abdul Hassan.
He confirmed that the first nine months of 2015 saw 355 sales transactions worth over $180 million in the Western division, with a large number of properties likely changing hands via real estate agents.
Industry and Trade Minister, Faiyaz Koya, officially opened the meet and highlighted efforts to improve the industry through partnerships with other agencies.
“The REALB, in an effort to improve the industry, is working closely with other key agencies, such as, Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority, Investment Fiji, Fiji Commerce Commission, Consumer Council of Fiji, Department of Police, Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit and the Immigration Department to establish mutual areas of understanding specifically in the exchange of information and data,” he stated.
Mr Koya also confirmed that a review of the Real Estate Act (2016) would be underway, as is a draft of a Landlord and Tenants Act by the Solicitor-General’s Office.
Presentations from various agencies covered policies, legal frameworks and consumer protection pertaining to real estate.
Mr Koya also confirmed that a review of the Real Estate Act (2006) is being planned, as well as a draft of a Landlord and Tenants Act by the Solicitor-General’s Office.
He said that in the meantime, several regulations would be developed to improve the Acts implementation.
These include standardized agency agreements between the real estate agents and their clients, a Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care, prescribed examinations for salespersons and stronger provisions on commission payable to real estate agents.
“In addition to these, the Ministry, Solicitor General’s Office and Fiji Commerce Commission are working closely on finalizing a draft Residential Tenancy Bill,” Mr Koya noted.
“The Bill will provide protection to both parties, the landlord and the tenant, in terms of prescribing the rights and responsibilities of each party.”
Mr Hassan noted that the real estate licensing laws were enacted only a decade ago to regulate the operation of real estate agencies in the country.
“Before this, the industry was not self-policing and some of the practices were not in the best interest of the public. Thus the REALB – a statuary body – was formed to protect the public and regulate the real estate in the country.”
The workshop was attended by 62 participants, with real estate agents also vouching to form an association for better representation to REALB.
A similar workshop will be held in Suva for agents from the Central and Eastern division.