With the launch of a White Paper on Malta’s Property Code & Regulations – 14th January 2016, we now step into the important phase of the WP’s ultimate aim – that of regulating the local Real Estate profession as required.
The first task at hand is to create a legal Act that would regulate all the estate agencies, agents, property consultants and property managers who operate locally. This Act would have the intent of safeguarding the interests of consumers and to promote public confidence in professionals’ performance. In order to make this Act tenable, we need to see the creation and approval of a viable Code of Ethics covering conduct between agencies, as well as ethical conduct with clients. To make such a code is functional, agencies would need to create internal training programs in line with international standards. I would hope to see the establishment of an Authority to coordinate the efforts of individuals and agencies in this regard.
In my experience I support the idea that ALL agents and agencies MUST operate under a license that can only be obtained against a clean criminal record. Licencees will be obliged to pay annual fees – presently it is being suggested that these vary from Euro 250 – Euro 500 depending on whether one is an individual agent or an agency. The idea is to allow an agency or agent who has been operating in excess of two calendar years to be licensed automatically against subscription.
And then we come to qualifications. We really need to raise the bar here. The White Paper is proposing that agents become accredited either via a diploma or via another equivalent certification. Over the years, I have increasingly seen a lacuna in the education of agents and thus I fully agree that one needs to be familiar with topics such as law, economics, business management, hands-on administration tasks, technical knowledge and valuation skills.
Our vision as property specialists has always been that of belonging to an industry that would eventually be recognized as a profession. Internally we have set a benchmark for ourselves which we have worked at for the past decade. In this sense, we are very proud to have been a catalyst and one of the main contributors towards the materialization of this White Paper.
As professionals within the industry, we have been given ample time in which to prepare ourselves for the tasks at hand, since the Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth is giving the industry players four whole weeks to discuss and forward suggestions towards the fulfilment of the White Paper. I trust this will fully aid to make the project as seamless & as effective as possible from inception. I appreciated hearing the address made at the launch of the White Paper held on Thursday 14th January 2016, by Hon Jose Herrera. He highlighted the point that this White Paper came as a result of some agents who identified the need for such a governing structure as would be able to lead their industry forward, seriously and effectively. Suggestions will be heard via the FEA and the MDA and this is the very reason as to why the authorities are adamant in their aim to work very closely with all industry players to implement such project.
In conclusion, I believe that even though the process of regulating the industry may in some ways deter the present mode of performance of particular industry players, who do have great skills, ability and potential as excellent estate agents, it is imperative to maintain the course of action being taken at this given moment in time. This is very important for the industry. Ultimately it will be important for individual careers which will attain professional recognition, impeding unorthodox practices and strengthen ethical business rule within this sector.
I look forward to the conclusion of the consultation period granted and I encourage industry players to work hard on the submission of suggestions so as to initiate the course of action for regularization in the most efficient and effective manner possible. In the meantime, I will keep you posted with any updates.