Real estate agents not registering under RERA citing lack of awareness
With real estate services available in almost every nook and corner of the State, from shops offering photocopying services to tour agencies, one would imagine that the number of real estate agents could run into several thousands.
Yet, almost half a year after the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016 was enforced, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Karnataka has approved very few projects, and far fewer real estate agents.
The RERA not only makes it compulsory for agents to register, but also binds them into dealing only with RERA registered properties.
Agents are often the first — and possibly only — point of contact for many potential home buyers. The Act had provided a glimmer of hope to home buyers to have a list of agents who would be bound by the Act, so that they are not misled into investing their life’s savings on dubious projects.
But for reasons ranging from a lack of awareness about the mandatory requirement to register to the fear of being held accountable, there have been few takers for the badge of ‘RERA registered agent’ — only 662 as of January 31.
Kapil Mohan, interim Chairman, RERA Karnataka, admitted that the number is lower than expected. “As of now, it is a transition period. In the future, all of them will be registered,” he said. “Most buyers deal only with agents and not with builders or promoters. After registration, it becomes clear that the agent will be as involved as the promoters in case something goes wrong. If they are promoting a project, they will have to make all effort to know all about it and will be liable to a penalty if caught doing otherwise.”
That is one of the reasons many agents are unwilling to get themselves registered. RERA registration offers recognition as an approved and legal agent by way of advantage, and nothing else.
Many real estate agents The Hindu spoke to cited being unaware of the Act, or the necessity to be registered, as the reason for not registering. “I don’t know what the Act is about or what we are supposed to do to register,” said an agent from Mysuru.
Another from Basaveshwarngar in Bengaluru said, “What is the advantage of getting registered? Nobody told us anything about having to get registered.”
There appears to be confusion even among those who claim to have applied for registration. One agent in Jayanagar, who claimed to be registered, said he continues to deal with promoters of properties irrespective of whether they are RERA approved or not.
But Irfan Basha, who registered last August, said though registration did not necessarily translate into more customers, he did it as a matter of compliance. “We are accountable for what we are going to sell. End users are being taken for a ride. Now, buyers can at least go with reliable brokers. Yes, we now have a smaller pool to sell from because the properties have to be registered with RERA. But it will be a genuine sale,” he said.
Some builders and promoters too agreed. K. Ramesh, managing partner of a property development company, said it would be safer for home buyers to look at registered agents. “Most often, prospective home buyers are shown heaven. But in reality, they are being told nasty lies. One can see small shopkeepers put up boards claiming to be real estate agents. There is legally an advantage for buyers to go for registered agents, as they can question them later,” he said.
Mr. Mohan added that Karnataka RERA is taking up measures to get more properties and agents to register, such as ensuring getting finance becomes difficult for unregistered projects.
Online platforms outside RERA
Though the Act has brought real estate agents under its ambit, online platforms that enable buying, selling and renting of properties remain outside. However, RERA officials pointed out that there is no commission or monetary transaction involved on the part of the platforms.
What the RERA says:
Every real estate agent registered shall —
– not facilitate the sale or purchase of any plot, apartment or building, as the case may be, in a real estate project or part of it, being sold by the promoter in any planning area, which is not registered with the Authority;
– not involve himself in any unfair trade practices, namely:— (i) the practice of making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation which— (A) falsely represents that the services are of a particular standard or grade; (B) represents that the promoter or himself has approval or affiliation which such promoter or himself does not have; (C) makes a false or misleading representation concerning the services;
(ii) permitting the publication of any advertisement whether in any newspaper or otherwise of services that are not intended to be offered.
– facilitate the possession of all the information and documents, as the allottee, is entitled to, at the time of booking of any plot, apartment or building, as the case may be.