The Real Estate Agency Council (REAC) – a statutory body established by an act of Parliament to regulate the operations of real estate agencies – has stated its intention to embark on massive data collection and property registration exercises to build a robust system for property valuation in the country.
According to the Council, this initiative will start first with the registration of intermediaries in negotiating and arranging real estate transactions: such as agents, property brokers and consultants as well as other players in the industry, to ensure the credibility of data gathered from recognised resources.
Board member and expert in real estate agency matters, Nana Otu Turkson, mentioned that the registration into membership starts in the first quarter of 2023 and members will have to renew their membership annually.
He indicated that an established examination procedure will be established so people who want to be members can be certified as one of the means of membership; while practitioners with five years of experience or more – as well as professionals like lawyers, valuation and estate surveyors (VES) and brokers – gain membership with evidence.
“A robust data system for the country’s real estate industry will help in properties’ valuation. It will help track property sales and help government get tax revenue from all property sales. The availability of data and information on our industry will stop speculations and sanitise the pricing of houses in the country’s urban space, which will ultimately benefit citizens who want to purchase these properties.
“Our mandate as a regulator also includes monitoring and reviewing real estate transactions to protect the consumers’ interests,” he said.
On his part, a Board member representative of the Ghana Institute of Surveyors, Emmanuel Kofi Cobbold, mentioned stakeholders should rest assured that their data safety is guaranteed under the Data Protection Act.
“I would urge all agencies operating in the real estate arena to register their staff who are directly involved in dealings when the registration portal is opened. We want all players to come onboard and help create a robust database that better-positions the industry on a path to address societal challenges and spearhead development,” he appealed.
Real Estate Regulation
The real estate industry’s growth in recent times has seen a corresponding increase in the number of real estate agents, property brokers and consultants. However, lack of a regulator left the sector at the mercy of industry players’ arbitrary practices – leading to the creation of an avenue where taxable gains are hidden from the state and criminals hide or use their gains to fund unlawful activities.
The sector has also seen undesirable practices whereby, for instance, prospective tenants have had to pay over the odds to view properties; agents have acted for both sides in transactions and obtained double fees by coercion; and agents have disappeared and left customers with no recourse among a host of others.
In a bid to curb this menace, the Estate Agency Act, 2020 (Act 1047) came into effect on the 29th of December 2020. The Act set out the rules and structures to regulate the sector. In addition to effective regulation of industry practitioners, the Act also seeks to plug the avenues via which real estate transactions are used to launder money. It allows for detailed tracking of transactions and those persons involved in the transactions.
The Act further provides a framework within which the Real Estate Agency Council can facilitate, promote and regulate the desired progressive sector practices in Ghana.