RA 9646: Resa and the Filipino real estate agent
The Resa Law brought to the limelight a segment of the real estate industry that was dismally monitored and less recognized as a formal sector.
It presupposes that real estate property transactions in the Philippines are prone to malpractice, especially with unqualified practitioners in an ineffective regulatory system.
Long time coming
From the perspective of the lawmakers, this legislation on real estate service has been long overdue. The intention is clear: to elevate the profession by ensuring that the practitioners are technically competent, responsible and respected professional real estate service practitioners.
The law is meant to prevent the practice of “colorum” agents and brokers. Thus, from the point of view of the government, the said law will improve the tax collection system involving the brokers, appraisers and salespersons.
When it was promulgated at the end of 2009, the public reception was highly resistant, as expected. Reactions ranged from outrage to fear because of the disruption it created.
Those who have been in the industry for decades—awarded top salespeople nonetheless—were bothered by feelings of insecurity for not having a license, and the thought that they will need to pass a 400-item exam to have one is disconcerting.
The already licensed real estate brokers have gained an overnight fame because they are minority in numbers, but salespersons will soon be at their mercy.
Some individuals flaunted their licenses and threatened agents assigned at the malls and the project sites that they can be fined and much worse, imprisoned, if they continue to engage in real estate activities without a license.
If the unlicensed agent was deemed the loser, the winners are definitely the real estate review centers and the real estate brokers’ organizations who gained windfall profits by holding Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions as required by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).
The sessions did not come cheap as these ranged from P20,000 to P50,000 depending on the hosting organization and the venue.
Education vs. experience
Scholastic requirements were deemed discriminatory for real estate brokers, moreover for the salespersons.
Back in 2009, the Resa Law required a minimum of four-year course for the brokers and two-year college course for the salesperson.
Speaking from my experience in a marketing network, a tertiary education is not a guarantee that you will be able to sell. We have had agents who did not even finish high school who are very accomplished sellers.
This provision will deprive a lot of individuals the chance to partake in the economic benefits of real estate.
Some of the members of our organization were lucky enough to have children whom they persuaded to take the exam to ensure their business will be legitimized by having a licensed broker. But we all know that their children will not practice real estate selling.
Effective 2016, only those who graduated with the course of BS Real Estate Management will be allowed to take the exam. The dismal number of examinees last March—39 to be exact—poses a bleak situation and will further widen the gap between the number of licensed vs. unlicensed practitioners.
There is also uncertainty on how the universities will be able to sustain the program that is unpopular among the high school graduates. Appeals have been made to still allow non-BS REM graduates to take the exam, and to also allow the non-passers to retake it.
Various real estate groups have been very vocal about the issues concerning the Resa Law, one of which is the Chamber of Real Estate and Builder’s Associations Inc. (Creba).
I support the group’s proposed amendments such as scrapping the policy of having a maximum of 20 salespersons under one licensed broker.
In the business of real estate marketing or brokerage, 20 salespersons will not make the business survive because it is not a guarantee that the registered salespeople will actively sell for you at any given time.
Managing either 20 or 100 salespeople is a job that a lead broker will be willing to take if it will spell the difference in making his organization successful.
Creba is also proposing the reduction of academic requirements for the salespersons to be registered. A diploma should not be an issue with the salespersons provided that they have undergone a formal training or are certified to have had ample experience by their supervising licensed broker.
Another undefined provision of the law pertains to the implementation of the K-to-12 program. Can a senior high school graduate be allowed to register as a salesperson?
PRC registration vs. HLURB registration
As if the Resa Law is not confusing and prohibitive enough to the Filipino agents, we were also made acquainted to another law, Presidential Decree 957, the Subdivision and Condominium Buyer’s Protective Decree.
Part of its amendments under Rule V, Section 13 issued almost at the same time with Republic Act No. 9646, the real estate dealers, brokers and salesmen are also required to register at the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
This is a separate process, another expense and queuing, moreover, registration expires annually. The Resa Law is supposed to be the governing act when it comes to real estate service practice and we were under the impression that it supersedes any previous laws such as PD 957 when it comes to real estate sellers’ registration is concerned.
This redundancy is counterproductive and implementation will be a burden both for the practitioner and the government agency.
In last year’s International Real Estate Investment Summit and Expo (IRISE) held in Manila, the implementation of the Resa Law was highlighted as the country’s motion to prepare for the Asean integration.
It was an affirmation to our neighbors that the Philippines is gearing towards the highest standards of competence and professionalism when it comes to the real estate service profession. This will help in gaining the trust of foreign investors in terms of improving the service delivery in the industry.
To the policymakers, specifically to the PRBRES board, we understand the objectives of the law. However, we believe that the issues brought about by its provisions should also be heard and addressed because the ineffective implementation can be detrimental in an industry that has of great economic and social value.
Ma. Melinda A. Bernardino is the executive vice president for finance and administration of Royale Homes Marketing Corp. (RHMC), a marketing arm of Sta. Lucia Realty and Sta. Lucia Land Inc. She has been in the real estate industry for almost four decades now, majority of which were spent at RHMC.
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