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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Real estate awards to highlight importance of agents’ work

The Malaysia Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) aims to create more recognition for the real estate industry through its annual National Real Estate Annual Awards.

Julie Wong and Soma Sundram with brochures of the inaugural Malaysia Institute of Estate Agents National Real Estate Awards

MIEA immediate past president and awards chairman Soma Sundram laments that the general public never takes the industry seriously.

“People do not see the real estate agency as a serious business, like say architecture or engineering. With the awards, we hope to promote the estate agency practice,” he tells StarBizweek.

“We also hope that with this recognition, Malaysians at large will also recognise the good work of estate agents. We feel that they are not appreciated by the public at large. They think we just take people, show house and that’s it,” Soma adds.

The MIEA organised its inaugural award on June 26 to highlight the achievements of agencies and its agents in the country for their sales performances in 2008. A total of seven award categories were contested.

Only active members of the MIEA were allowed to participate.

Soma says the idea of an award to recognise the achievements of real estate players was thought of 15 years ago.

“We were actually toying with the idea of an award 15 years ago but it never took off because nobody was prepared for such a thing. At the time, nobody wanted to disclose anything about their sales performance.”

Being the first of its kind, Soma admits there will always be room for improvement in organising such an event like the National Real Estate Awards.

“We expect even greater competition next year and I’m sure even the judging standards will be raised,” he says.

This year’s inaugural awards was judged by an independent committee headed by International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI).

On another note, Soma says he is optimistic about the outlook for the local property industry despite the current global economic downturn.

“I’ve been saying this for the last six months – the local property market has not been seriously affected. We expect to see it improve by year-end.”

Newly appointed MIEA president Julie Wong shares Soma’s sentiments.

Little impact

“Affected properties are mainly those within the Golden Triangle area whereby 30% are bought by foreigners. When the economy in their own country is affected, they panic and start to sell from here.

“There is a little bit of impact within the Mont’ Kiara area because there are a lot of foreigners there too. Other than that, we have not heard of people who were desperate to sell off their commercial properties or condominiums,” she says.

Soma says the situation is also far from dire for the real estate industry.

“Those who focus on certain affected areas may have seen a slight dip in turnover but it has not gone to the point of closing shop or staff reduction for real estate agents. In fact, I’ve not heard of any of our members cutting staff.”

Wong adds that the real estate industry has become wiser since the 1997 Asian financial crisis and is more prepared to handle the current economic downturn.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

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