Body keeps eye on standards
From gang fighting at new flat sales to dubious selling methods in pitching deals, the standard and quality of some of Hong Kong's property agents has been a concern for the public since the property boom in the 1990s.
The government set up the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) in 1997 to better regulate the industry.
The EAA, which aims to enhance consumer protection and promote open and fair property transactions, is the statutory body overseeing the 20,000 property agents in Hong Kong.
Under the Estate Agents Ordinance, people who want to become property agents must seek a licence from the EAA. The regulator issues licences for agents using a two-tier system: licensed estate agent and licensed salesperson.
According to the authority, a licensed estate agent may perform estate agency work as a sole proprietor, a partner or a director of a property agency, while a licensed salesperson can only work as an employee of a licensed estate agent.
Under the law, the EAA has the power to fine rule breakers up to $500,000 and take people to court. Consumers may ask the EAA to help resolve disputes with property agents in which the claimed amount is under $300,000. This may be quicker than going to court.