Rebounding property business boosts ranks of estate agents

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 January, 2010, 12:00am

The ranks of the city's estate agents rose 10.9 per cent last year, lifted by the rebounding property market, and the industry watchdog expects the sector to keep growing.

The Estate Agents Authority said yesterday that the number of individual licensees, including salesmen and estate agents, increased to a record 25,810 people as of December 31, up from 23,266 a year earlier.

'It was a fluctuating year. Initially, the figure dropped a bit because of the financial crisis, but it started to surge from March,' said Vivien Chan, , the chairwoman of the Estate Agents Authority. 'As the property market has remained busy into January, we believe that the number will continue to rise.'

The number of licensed companies also hit a new high of 1,956, from 1,660 in 2008.

The watchdog said complaints last year totalled 672 cases, up 3.5 per cent from 2008, but added that the number of hearings on cases of alleged misconduct fell to 184 from 196.

It said only 30 per cent of the complaints - mainly about failure to sign or explain agreements and misleading clients - were found to be justified. The authority has received 12 complaints from mainlanders in the past four years, of which about 50 per cent took place last year.

The authority earlier held a seminar for firms helping mainlanders to migrate to Hong Kong through property investment.

The watchdog said it had received three licence applications this month from companies offering such services.

The authority's chief executive, Rosanna Ure Lui Hang-sai, said 2,029 inspections were conducted last year, of which more than half were checks at first-sale sites.

Ure said the authority was reviewing a circular for estate agents in line with new policies requiring developers to state clearly the price per square foot or per square metre of saleable area on the price lists.

She said the framework of the circular would be ready in the first half of this year.

The watchdog would also join hands with the Independent Commission Against Corruption to organise a three-year programme aimed an enhancing ethics and integrity in the industry, Ure said.