LETTERS: Regulate real estate agents to restore order

There are increasing reports of fraud and unprofessionalism in the real estate sector. FILE PHOTO | NMG
There are increasing reports of fraud and unprofessionalism in the real estate sector. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A year ago, I wrote on the need for the Estate Agents Registration Board to curtail the mushrooming unregistered agents in Kenya.

This was owing to increasing reports of fraud and unprofessionalism in the industry. The control was also meant to restore sanity back into an industry that contributes a massive 8.4 per cent to the national GDP.

Other than setting up a Twitter account with a handful of followers, not much has ostensibly been done by the board since then. At least from where we sit. While I strongly advocate for their re-strategizing on the running of the board, I understand how difficult it would be to nab unregistered agents. It would be the proverbial needle in haystacks.

In Kenya, regrettably, to be a real estate agent is as easy as having a smartphone and knowledge of navigating an online portal or social network.

This effortlessness has consequently led to every ragtag and bobtail venturing into the profitable uncontrolled endeavor.

This is contrary to the Estate Agents Act, 1984 Cap 533 which only gives mandate to the board to admit new Estate Agents through a thorough interview process.

Evidently, online portals that advertise properties have continued to see a rise in real estate agents venturing into the business.

While I commend the portals for conducting due diligence keenly by ensuring the prospect agents are thoroughly vetted on their eligibility and authenticity, they can only do so much to moderate the ‘matatu’ style craze characterising the growth of the industry.

It would therefore be prudent for Estate Agents and Registration Board to work with such portals to help restore the diminishing trust that is core to any real estate transactions.

Leading online portals practically have access to a majority of real estate agents operating in Kenya. This would be a perfect convergence spot for all starting agents.

In conjunction with the portals, the board may take advantage to educate and inform these agents of their existence and mandate.

This is because close to 90 per cent of practising agents may not know about any regulatory body in the real estate industry other than the normal business permit one is required by the county government.

Being the interest of property portals and the board to only have professional agents advertising, the measures would seamlessly be feasible to implement and achieve.

This will In turn ensure that the competence and conduct of the practising agents are of a standard sufficiently high for the protection of the public.

Githinji wa Muhoro, customer relationship manager, Property 24