In Malaysia, one need to have a real estate license to be a property agent. As it is not relatively easy to obtain this license, most property agents or commonly known as negotiators register themselves with a licensed real estate company that allows them to buy/sell and rent property on behalf of their clients. As such, essentially, any Tom Dick or Harry can be a negotiator and yes, that is what you will encounter nowadays in the industry. Training is usually quite basic and not all that is taught during training is practiced.
Personally, based on my own experience, property agents do provide an invaluable service to owners as they are able to source for buyers and renters much more efficiently than owners themselves. Some owners may not wish to spend the time and money looking for buyers or renters and as such, will enlist the services of property agents. These agents more often than not know the correct and most effective way to market a property and with their network and contacts, their services are much needed especially in a booming property market.
Having said that, as always, there will be some agents that are giving the industry a bad name. I have heard of and encountered agents that are not professional in their dealings and who are just there to make the commission rather than providing a service.
I have met a property agent who brought a client to view a rental property wearing clothes that were only suitable for going to the wet market and to top it all she was using a plastic bag to house all her precious belongings. Then there was the other extreme where there was an agent that came by in clothes that were more suitable for going out clubbing at night.
Another agent insisted on bringing her teenage daughter each and every time she brought over her prospective client to view the property. She was using her daughter as a “security guard”. Not sure how that was going to help in the end, but I guess to her better to have a chaperon than none at all!
I have also dealt with an agent that “disappeared” after collecting their commission and conveniently not answer calls after that. So I had to end up calling their office demanding that they sent me the relevant receipt and stamped tenancy agreement which to me was a waste of my time as any good agent should be able to provide such services without aggravation to the owner.
One common grouse against agents is the way they “fish” for prospective buyers, tenants and owners. They commonly advertise a property usually online that is below market value and when one calls to enquire , they will usually say “the property has been sold, but I have another one you can consider but this one is at a higher price” or “my colleague has just sold that property but I have another one on a different floor etc..” ..
Then you have agents that do not turn up for an appointment on time, agents that do not turn up at all, and there are those that do not return calls. Then to top it all, I have also dealt with an agent with a poor command of English and who struggled to fill in the order/confirmation form for the transaction. Have to add that there was an agent who after a transaction was done asked me if it could be a “private deal” which meant that the commission was to be paid to him directly bypassing his company…The answer was “no”.
Then there were agents who did not even have the basic info on the property that they were handling like built up area and maintenance fee. What they were very clear on was the price, may it be rental or selling price!
So to avoid having your blood pressure going through the roof when dealing with property agents/negotiators, it would be advisable to screen agents before enlisting their services. Talk to them first and ask them some relevant questions to get a feel as to how familiar they are with the property, and ask them specifically what followup services they provide once a deal has been confirmed.
The general guideline is that if you don’t feel comfortable dealing with the agent, then don’t use them as more often than not, there are plenty in the market for you to choose from. Property agents/negotiators are much needed in the end, but hopefully with stricter enforcement, the level of services will substantially be improved overall.