Speech By MOS Faishal Ibrahim At Singapore Estate Agents Associations’ 2023 SG Real Estate Excellence Awards Ceremony
Aug 18, 2023
Mr Adam Wang, President, SEAA
Mr Edmund Toh, CEO, SEAA
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening, everyone.
I would like to sincerely thank SEAA for organising and inviting me to today’s Award Ceremony. Today’s ceremony is meant to recognise your hard work and commitment as real estate professionals towards professionalism and service excellence.
I am delighted to be here with you as we celebrate not only the success of many outstanding individuals, but also the collective effort by all of you to raise the standards of your industry.
Property agents as Real Estate Professionals
As you know, land, property and housing are very important in land-scarce Singapore. Whenever I meet my counterparts from overseas, they are always intrigued. You are so small, but you do it so beautifully.
And for land, property and housing, they constitute a significant part of our nation’s wealth and assets. But more importantly, they are our homes, where we spend much of our time in, and for many of us, the single largest purchase we make in our life.
All of you play a vital role, advising and guiding consumers in their journey to acquiring homes and properties.
At the Singapore Estate Agents Conference earlier this year, Second Minister for National Development, Ms Indranee Rajah, suggested that it would be more accurate and appropriate to refer to you as ‘real estate professionals’, given the duties that you have to carry out. And I agree
In recent years, the Government has implemented a few rounds of property market measures and made several changes to the public housing programme. These are aimed at ensuring that HDB flats remain accessible and affordable for Singaporeans.
a. From the next BTO exercise, First-Timer families with children aged 18 and below, and married couples aged 40 and below will receive an additional ballot and enjoy higher priority to secure their first home, so they can settle down quickly.
b. Since Feb this year, eligible first-timer buyers can also enjoy the increased CPF Housing Grant of up to $190,000 for their purchase of a resale flat.
For homebuyers, especially those looking for their first home, the property market can appear daunting. Fortunately, they can rely on you for accurate and updated information, so they can navigate the complexities of the market more easily. They rely on you to act in their best interests and advise them so that they can make financially prudent yet rewarding decisions.
Uplifting professionalism and strengthening consumer trust
Your job is by no means an easy task. Besides familiarising yourself with the properties that you are marketing, you also need to keep updated on changes in the relevant laws and regulations, the property market and housing policies. More importantly, you need to understand their underlying rationale and implications, so you can explain them to your clients.
At the same time, you must also evolve and grow as trends and circumstances change. Digital marketing, virtual viewings and other technologies such as Generative AI and ChatGPT are just the beginning. As information becomes more accessible, consumers’ knowledge will grow, and their expectations of the real estate agency industry will increase. Digitalisation and raising productivity are key, but as individuals, you also need to invest in continual upskilling to match up to consumers’ rising expectations.
In short, the entire sector needs to go beyond proficiency, to be professional, productive, and resilient to tomorrow’s needs.
Project ADEPT (ADvancing and Enhancing Professionalism and Training)
To this end, CEA has been working with the industry stakeholders to develop and implement initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (RE ITM) 2025. Through Project ADEPT, a key initiative under RE ITM 2025, we will be enhancing the quality of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) ecosystem, so that you are well equipped with the skillsets and know-how to continually provide professional and quality services to your clients.
We have received valuable feedback through industry surveys, consultations, and discussions with industry stakeholders, including SEAA’s CEO, Mr Edmund Toh, on how we can improve the CPD ecosystem. And I want to sincerely thank you for being part of this process and helping to shape the outcome.
Briefly, you can expect:
a. An increase in CPD training to 16 training hours per year, effective October 2025,
b. A blend of structured and self-directed learning, so that you can take ownership of your learning journey and pursue a personalised path with expanded learning opportunities.
c. To help you navigate the many courses available and build knowledge in areas critical to the industry, we will prescribe training requirements on specific essential topics, such as laws and regulations governing the property market.
d. We will also enhance the accreditation criteria and CPD course instructional design requirements, and adopt a more rigorous audit framework to ensure a consistently high level of quality.
e. As course participants, you will be able to submit your feedback to CEA directly. The feedback collected will be published on CEA’s website, and over time, with your contribution, we can build up a database that will help potential learners decide which courses to sign up for.
f. Where possible, CEA will also identify and introduce courses, that could lead to formal certification of the training received.
Digitalisation and raising productivity
At the firm level, I am happy to see that many property agencies have made good progress in their digitalisation journey.
a. The five largest property agencies have, for example, committed to achieve the RE ITM targets of 100% digital signing of property transaction-related documents, and having all of their property agents trained in at least one digital marketing tool or skill by 2025.
b. I would also like to applaud the efforts of some agencies that have invested time and resources to enhance their in-house digital tools, such as by applying real-time data analytics to major world and local events to derive property trends and advise their clients.
The Government will continue to support agencies’ digitalisation, including that of small and medium-sized property agencies through the SMEs Go Digital Programme. Over 150 small- and medium-sized property agencies have already benefitted from the programme, and I encourage more agencies to apply for funding support to adopt digital solutions and build capabilities. You will also be able to find pre-approved digital solutions in areas such as customer relationship management and document management, which can help improve productivity, regardless of agency size.
I am heartened that SEAA and other training providers have also been conducting courses for real estate professionals to learn how to use digital tools. Through these efforts and continued close partnership with the industry, we hope that you will be able to provide your clients with stronger assurance of the quality of your advice and services, and guide them in making informed choices that align with their long-term interests and needs.
So, like what I have shared earlier, I am happy that you have done well. I’ve met many many estate agents, as well as your clients in my life. And I want to share with you that your clients depend a lot on you. They hope that your services, your professionalism, as well as what you provide to them will be something that they expect, something that they can trust, as well as the accuracy of the information that you share with them. And I’ve met many real estate agents, as well as real estate professionals who have done their work very well. I want to urge you to continue to do this.
We are looking at how we can further help you improve on and to enjoy the journey. The changes that are upcoming, which I had shared, for example the CPD hours, all this will help you to journey this through and provide better services to your clients. So if you continue your journey, I’m sure we will get better and there will be more celebrations to come.
Let me conclude by sending my warmest congratulations to all award recipients! You have shown exemplary performance and upheld the high levels of professionalism and service excellence of the real estate industry. Well done to you, I am happy to be here. I feel humbled to be together with the high achievers in this area of work that you do, and I am very proud of your achievement. And I hope you will enjoy this evening.