Rising property prices have caused the real estate profession to come under the spotlight in recent months. This is expected, of course, because when a company or industry begins to report record prices or profits, then it risks being placed under the political microscope.
The Singapore government recently launched a public consultation exercise for a new regulatory framework for the real estate industry (which apparently received only 200 suggestions). One of the more popular suggestions was to require real estate agents to pass a standard test before they’re allowed to practice. That seems long overdue. While most people don’t expect their agents to be real estate geniuses, I’m sure they expect agents to have at least some comprehension of the industry. I mean, this is probably one of the more important decisions in your life, right?
But hopefully people won’t assume that just because the test will be covering ethics, they’ll suddenly be faced with an army of honest real estate agents. How well could you test someone’s conscience? Would it give you peace of mind if someone said, ‘I scored 90% during my ethics test, so yeah, you should trust me’? While ethics should be thought, assuming that an ethics test would produce honest agents is not only naive, but harmful. Why? For one thing, finding solutions that merely satisfice arrests further developments.
Hopefully the new regulatory framework for the real estate industry is not merely a legitimising exercise on the part of the government. Weeding out errant agents is a good thing for both the public and industry players. But maybe the spotlight should be placed on the machines that churn out such agents for a while?