Real estate is one enormous industry in Singapore that has also put the country on the map for its unique structural and infrastructural developments. The city-state is known for its beautiful and well-developed residential and commercial buildings. People from all over the world come to witness the fascinating mix of the old buildings and new skyscrapers that form a part of Singapore’s skyline.
Singapore has blossomed into a business hub with time. And, with investors worldwide needing a piece of it for both commercial and residential purposes, the country has been growing vertically to meet the ever-increasing real estate demands.
Opening a real estate business in Singapore in this day and age is a very lucrative business proposition as there are clients throughout the year looking for properties for either investment or self-occupy. In this article, we will be shedding some light on how you can start a real estate agency in Singapore.
What does a Real Estate Agency Do?
Real estate agents are licenced professionals who undertake the duties of guiding potential buyers and sellers when transacting in real estate. These professionals take the interested party through the buying or selling process and make sure all the legal aspects are taken into account during the process.
Some of the general duties of a real estate agent can be divided into three categories:
- Schedule appointments and visits to the property with potential clients.
- Update property listings on property websites and other advertising platforms.
- Respond to property inquiries from buyers, sellers, or prospective investors.
- Create various necessary documents regarding the property.
- Perform real estate market statistical analysis, looking into the demographic and economic data.
- Stay updated on the current changes in the real estate market, such as laws, trends, and practices.
- Search for new property listings to help increase customer traction.
- Create and manage an active online presence on relevant social media platforms.
- Network with potential clients and local businesses.
- Run advertising campaigns in line with the client’s goals and the property’s target demographic.
- Undertake mass advertising measures such as distributing pamphlets.
Who can Open a Real Estate Agency in Singapore?
According to the Estate Agents Act in Singapore, all real estate agencies, whether a partnership, sole proprietorship, or a limited company involved in carrying out real estate duties, must be registered and licenced by the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) in Singapore.
Any individual who works for a real estate company and undertakes any of the real estate duties also needs to register him or herself with the CEA through the company they work for.
Some of the licensing criteria for a new estate agent are as follows:
- The business must be registered with the Singapore Companies Registrar, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
- The estate agency must appoint a Key Executive Officer (KEO) who is:
- Neither bankrupt, convicted of fraud, nor has breached fiduciary duties in any county,
- Should not have been detained under the Misuse of Drugs Act or Criminal Law Act,
- Must have attained at least a 4 GCE ‘O’ level passes,
- Be a sole proprietor, director, or partner of the estate agent,
- Taken and passed the Real Estate Agency Exam (REA) in the 2 years immediately before the application for a licence, or equivalent,
- Not registered with another real estate company,
- Not been previously a sole-proprietor, KEO, director, or partner of an estate agent whose licence was revoked,
- Has at least a three-year working experience under a Singaporean licence for real estate.
- The real estate company or its employees should not hold a moneylender’s licence or be part of a licenced moneylender.
- The real estate agent must have a valid Professional Indemnity Insurance policy covering the business and its agents.
- The agency must have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for training and supervising its employees, complaint handling and dispute resolution, advertising & printing of publicity materials, protection of confidentiality of clients’ information, and service standards for its operations.
- Each real estate agency company must issue its estate agents cards to each of its real estate agents following the guidelines set by the CEA.
Licences and Permits Required
For any real estate business to run in Singapore, it requires to abide by the current legislation. It is the law for every business entity doing real estate agency work, either through a Real Estate Salesperson (RES) or digital platform, to have an estate agent (EA) licence. Also, the business should not be bankrupt or have entered into a composition or arrangement with creditors.
To apply for the EA licence, the company first needs to appoint a KEO. It is the KEO’s responsibility to look after the administration and management of the EA, as well as supervise the salespersons. Once all the approvals are in place, the real estate agency is given the go-ahead to begin operations.
The Registration Process of Starting a Real Estate Business in Singapore
The registration process of a Singapore real estate business is quick, straightforward, and quite efficient. Provided that you have all the documents, you can have your business up and running within days. Yes, that is not a typo. It’s possible, especially if you have professionals from a reputable company by your side.
The first step is to register the business with ACRA. Using Bizfile, ACRA’s web portal, you can register your business from the comfort of your home or office. You would require a SingPass ID to log in and start the registration process. If you are a foreigner and don’t have a SingPass, you can take the help of a corporate service provider.
Timcole is Singapore’s most reliable specialist when it comes to company formation with ACRA. Our professional agents are available to advise and guide you on the business structure that suits your real estate agency.
Other documents that you will need to apply include particulars of shareholders and directors, licences, and other required permits. Once you have successfully applied, you should receive a communication from ACRA within three working days. Processing times can be as quick as a day, depending on the workload.
Once the business has been registered and receives a Unique Entity Number (UEN), the KEO of the agency is required to submit the EA licence application through the CEA’s e-services. The KEO also needs to ensure that all the employees of the real estate company register themselves with CEA.
Once CEA grants the approval and the EA pays the licence fee, the agency can embark on any business related to real estate.
The real estate industry in Singapore has been one to watch out for as it has exceptionally grown over the years. It is backed up by a strong legislative system that oversees how real estate is transacted and protected. This is to say that the government has put in measures to ensure that individuals who carry out real estate services are honest and qualified. It also guarantees to eliminate fraudsters, who may jeopardize the industry’s integrity.