Real Estate Brokerage has two different faces on two different sides of the globe. While it is a dignified, white collar profession in the west, it is yet to progress beyond a blue-collar image in the Indian mindset. Indeed why so? Real estate brokers have made themselves infamous as middlemen, charging hefty commissions for merely connecting the buyer and the seller, and disappearing once the money is received. Many have a rustic background, working as shopkeepers, delivery boys, watchmen looking to make a fast buck in India’s growing cities. Client experience has largely been negative, with people often sulking over the need to run from pillar to post for completing formalities without an iota of assistance from the Estate Agents.
This rot has occurred largely because real estate brokerage is unregulated. In India, any Tom, Dick and Harry can become and Estate Agent. This is unlike the USA, where a license is mandatory for anyone wanting to open an Estate Agency. The absence of regulation of has resulted in the proliferation of fly-by-night operators with a get-rich-quick mentality. Consequently, consumer perception of brokers as middlemen and over chargers has solidified.
However, times are now changing. Just as Organised Retail took the consumer retail sector by storm, organised real estate brokerage is quietly setting shop here. Global real estate networks like RE/MAX, Caldwell Bankers and Century 21 are eyeing an Indian Presence. RE/MAX has associated itself with over 140 Estate Agents in India. Companies like RE/MAX have extensive self-regulation mechanisms prescribed for their agents, who operate as franchisees of the parent company, RE/MAX USA. Thus, while Government regulation is yet to establish a foothold, such private initiatives are already in operation, taking the first few steps towards restoring the tarnished image of the industry.
Indeed, white collar professionals can consider Real Estate as a career option in the near future, within three or five years. Self regulation, as in the case of companies like RE/MAX and industry associations like NAR (National Association of Realtors) is gradually intensifying, with the setting of strict service quality standards and laying down of severe penalties like fine and expulsion from the association in the event of any malpractice.
Moreover, the introduction of technology has made the business smoother. Today a customer need not run from broker to broker to
Also, the advent of property listing sites exclusively for brokers can provide a fillip to white collared real estate professionals. Sites like www.propertyfeast.com are revolutionary in the sense that they only accept listings from agents, not from individual property owners. If this model clicks, then routing of new property listings through brokerages will increase, making the sector more lucrative.
Moreover, renowned universities are now entering the fray with specialized courses in Real Estate and Construction Management. NALSAR University of Law at Hyderabad is coming up with a course on Real Estate Law and Construction Management in collaboration with the National Academy of Construction at Hyderabad. It is a one year long post graduate course with responsibility divided between the two institutions. While the subject of Construction Management, being a technical one, will be handled by the National Academy of Construction, NALSAR will impart instruction in Real Estate Law. Attending this course is advisable for industry specialists such as civil engineers, project managers and realtors. Law is a key component of any real estate project. Indeed, as the saying goes, with a good architect and a smart lawyer, a builder’s project is guaranteed to shine!
The Annual Convention of the National Association of Realtors held at Hyderabad drew thousands of industry professionals from all over the country. There was a uniform conviction among everyone that the industry needed reform. Government regulation would be desirable, provided that the regulation does not become excessive red tape. The speakers came from diverse backgrounds as builders, brokers, financial analysts and even spiritual gurus. Mr. Lalit Kumar Jain, president of CREDAI, the nation wide association of developers, called for more institutions to offer quality training in real estate to budding professionals. There was a unanimous consensus that the brokerage business needed to become more customer centric. Given the increasing strength of advocacy for reform, it is a matter of time before organised real estate brokerages offering host of value added services such as drafting of agreements, registration of documents, skillful negotiation of deals and advising developers on projects come to dominate the Indian reality scene. The financial rewards are huge, considering the high population density and the growing pressure on land, which is a limited commodity. It is beyond the capacity of blue collared workers to offer such services. Indeed the time is ripe for university graduates with training in property management and law to consider entering this industry. Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions a person makes in life. Mature advice from a seasoned professional is a must for such an investment to yield returns and provide happiness to the household. A good property agent almost maintains a fiduciary relationship with his client – a relationship built based on trust and confidence. Helping a person purchase property is akin to a lawyer advising his client or a doctor treating his patient. If you win your clients trust, then more referrals will follow, ensuring good customer confidence and repeat business for years to come.
Happy reading, don’t forget to post your comments !
NALSAR University of Law,
Knowledge Manager – Legal