RERA – an agent’s perspective
The sections 9 and 10 of the act cover the role of a real-estate agent. It is definitely better to have some legal recognition of agents than none but, quite a lot more needs to be understood and then defined.
As per my analysis, the real-estate broking alone is a Rs. 18,000 crores sector in India and there are over 5,00,000 real-estate agents across India. Yet, real-estate broking sector in India is less than 1% the size of this segment across the world. The RERA does speak of registering the agents but, at the same time, leaves a lot of other issues unaddressed.
- Prima facie reading the said sections of the act gives the impression that the act is only for the agents involved in a sale transaction related to any new project. The scope of the act needs to be widened to resale transactions and also to lease and rent transactions.
- A lot of responsibilities have been attached and attributed to an agent but an agent is a mere facilitator. He is neither a part of the promoter nor is he an entity on whom a project depends. In such a situation pegging too many responsibilities on him would not only be unfair but could also be counterproductive for the realty sector especially when his interests in the deal are neither safeguarded nor taken care of. From the promoter’s side, an agent is asked to bring in customers and do a lot leg work but, in the end, is not paid his legitimate professional fees. Likewise, from, the buyer’s side, an agent is supposed to get the lowest price as also, do the due diligence. Yet, quite a few times, the agent is left without his legitimate professional fees.
- There is a requirement of setting up a national level body or an institute to impart training for varied real-estate deals such as for residential premises, agricultural land, industrial plots, etc. The ambiguities would fade away once a national level body of real-estate professionals is set up.
- RERA differentiates an individual from a company and the registration fees of the two are different. The act doesn’t define the roles and responsibilities of the two. Whether all the employees of the company automatically get license to practise the profession or only those in the company who are individually registered as the real-estate agents get to represent their principal company. The issue is critical and needs to be defined beyond doubts.
- The act envisages an agent to register himself/herself state-wise. However, one national level registration of an agent should be good enough for all the states. Quite a few times, the deals happen across two states. Or, multiple deals happen between same parties across multiple states with the same real-estate agent in between.
- The act also should define the role of the electronic media related with the real-estate industry. The industry has witnessed a deluge of portals and social media pages which are neither authentic nor regulated which often tend to mislead their patrons.
There is an emergent need to define the role as well as the professional fees of an agent during sale transactions as well as leasing and renting.