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Start a Singapore Real Estate Agency

How to Start a Singapore Real Estate Agency?

How to Start a Singapore Real Estate Agency

What Is a Real Estate Agency?

A Real Estate agency is involved in the business of helping people buy or sell houses.

Are There Any Perks to Starting a Singapore Real Estate Agency?

Singapore has a very robust property market. It has one of the strongest economies in the region, and with its talented human resource pool and strategic location, it’s no surprise that Singapore has become business and financial hub in Southeast Asia. Singapore also has an economy that always seems to be able to pick itself up without any worry or fear, and wealthy foreigners enjoy making the beautiful island city-state their second home. With all this going for it, it’s definitely a good time to be a real estate agency in Singapore as residential units and commercial space are being quickly snapped up by owner-occupants and investors alike.

What Do I First Need to Do to Start a Real Estate Agency in Singapore?

Start a Singapore Real Estate Agency

The first step towards conducting business as a real estate agency in Singapore is to incorporate a company, or if you’re going the partnership or sole-proprietorship route, register your Limited Liability Partnership or sole-proprietorship with the ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore).

Start a Singapore Real Estate Agency2

The next step is a crucial one. If you’re a company, partnership or sole-proprietor (not individuals) whose business involves buying, selling and leasing properties, then you’ll need to apply for a House Agent’s License. You need to get this license from Singapore’s IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority).

To Be the Main Licensee of the House Agent’s License, you’ll need to:

  • Be a Singaporean citizen or PR (Permanent Resident); (More info here for matters regarding Application to be a PR)
  • Have a graduate degree in real estate from NUS (National University of Singapore); or you must be an advocate/solicitor who holds a practicing certificate;
  • Have passed one of these 3: CEHA (Common Examinations for House Agents), the Association of Singapore Realtors’ Course, or Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers’ Real Estate Agency Course;
  • Have at least one year of experience working for a licensed real estate agency.
  • Have, in the last two years, concluded at least 20 property transactions for a licensed real estate agent. At least 5 out of these 20 property transactions must be the sale or 1-year lease of private properties. The 20 property transactions should either be (a) direct cases or (b) a combination of 15 direct cases and 10 co-broke cases (each co-broke cases will be regarded as half a case). For each of these transactions, the net commission received should be at the very least SGD 1000.
  • Have a controlling stake, that is, more than 50% shareholdings, in the proposed real estate agency.

How to Apply for the House Agent’s License

You’ll have to submit the below documents and information to the IRAS’s House Agents Licensing Unit:

  • A copy of your company’s Business Profile (which you can obtain from ACRA for a small fee);
  • A certified true copy of your real estate degree certificate from either the NUS (National University of Singapore) or from one of these 3: CEHA (Common Examinations for House Agents), the Association of Singapore Realtors’ Course, or Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers’ Real Estate Agency Course.
  • A Letter from the Singapore Law Society, complete with your details, if you’re an advocate or solicitor;
  • A testimonial from the licensee of a licensed real estate agency;
  • A comprehensive list of all the transactions concluded by you. It also has to be verified by the licensee of the licensed real estate agency.
  • Documentary proof of the aforementioned 20 sale/lease transactions;
  • The personal particulars of the company’s Director/Partners/Sole Proprietor;
  • The passport-sized photos of the company’s Director/Partners/Sole Proprietor;
  • The qualifications and working experience of the company’s Director/Partners/Sole Proprietor.

If all your documents are in order, you can expect to receive a notification within 1-2 weeks of your submission. This notification will advise you that your application for the House Agent’s License has been approved. You will need to pay SGD 130 for the issuance of the House Agent’s License.

But What if I get Rejected?

There should be no reasons for the authorities to reject your application if you have submitted all the necessary documents and accurate information. In order to save both your time and resources, you can hire a professional services firm to handle your House Agent’s License application.

Renewing your License

The validity of the real estate agency license is for the duration of 1 year, expiring on the 31st December every calendar year, irrespective of the month in which you made the application (so applying in January will prove advantageous). It is a must to renew your travel agency license 10 days before the expiry date. You can process your renewal application by submitting the necessary form and documents to IRA’s House Agents Licensing Unit – expect to wait about 4 weeks or so for the renewal process to be completed.

A Quick Overview of the Proposed New Regulatory Framework for the Licensing of Real Estate Agencies

The Ministry of National Development has proposed the setting up of a new statutory board called the Council of Estate Agencies. This Council will take over the IRA’s role, and will start implementing a new framework for the regulation of the real estate industry. This new regulatory framework seeks to:

  • Introduce and ensure that all real estate agents are registered.
  • Introduce new regulations dealing with the conduct of all real estate agencies’ works.
  • Meeting out discipline and enforcing the mechanisms related to dispute resolutions.
  • Improving the licensing of real estate agencies.

The Proposed Compulsory Registration of Real Estate Agents

Real estate agencies will have to make sure that all of its agents are registered with the Council, as well as meet all the below requirements:

  • Be a Singapore Citizen or PR (Permanent Resident);
  • Be 21 years of age, or above;
  • Must not be registered with another agency, or be an existing licensee of another agency;
  • Have a minimum of 4 GCE O-Level passes, or the equivalent;
  • Have passed one of the real estate industry’s examinations;
  • Always enrolled in continuing professional development courses.
  • Must not be a licensed moneylender or an employee of a licensed moneylender;
  • Must not be an un-discharged bankrupt;
  • Must not have any track record of complains or convictions;
  • Must not have a record of criminal activity that involves either dishonesty or fraud;
  • Must be wearing their agent identification cards at all time while working in the capacity of a real estate agent for a real estate agency.

There will also be a Code of Ethics and a Professional Conduct Standard, as well as the introduction of disciplinary action against errant agents/agencies and dispute resolution mechanisms. Arrangements will be made to manage the transition of existing agencies and agents to these new standards, which have yet to be finalized.

The Proposed Improvement in Quality for Real Estate Agencies

Most of the licensing conditions that has been mentioned above will still be applicable. The proposed improvement comes in the form of new licensing conditions which the Main Licensee will have to satisfy. This includes most of the points mentioned above in the Proposed Compulsory Registration of Real Estate section above, as well as these new ones:

  • Having at least 3 years of working experience;
  • Have completed at least 30 property transactions in the past 3 years. At least 10 of these transactions will have to be for private properties, and at least another 10 has to be for HDB flats (also known as public housing);
  • Having sufficient coverage under a Professional Indemnity Insurance;
  • Making sure that there are systems and processes in place that will ensure the proper management of both the real estate agents, and the business.
Ready to incorporate with professional help?

At Paul Hype Page, you don’t pay us by the hours, you gain from the value we provide in that hour.

Let us assist you today. For more information about Paul Hype Page & Co. professional company incorporation services, click here

Paul Hype Page & Co. is an ACRA-certified business adviser. Our team of seasoned professional can help you set up a company in Singapore very quickly and easily following all legal entities, and offer you sound advice on how to make it successful too.

What Are The Guidelines For Foreigners to Start a Business in Singapore4

In addition to business registration, we’ll also guide you how to:

  1. Write a business plan – Learn how to write a compelling business plan by accessing our sample business plans, or other helpful market research information
  2. Perform market research – Understand your business market, learn how it can enhance your business growth, and how to properly conduct a market research for your business
  3. Corporate Secretary Services – If you are registering a company in Singapore, you will need a Corporate Secretary. Corporate compliance in Singapore is a complex legal requirement for all Singapore registered companies. Our company secretarial team helps our clients and their officers to fulfil their statutory obligations in an efficient manner.
  4. Manage your finances – We’ll offer you the best resources and information to help you fully understand all financial concepts and teach you how to perform basic accounting tasks like budgeting, bookkeeping, financial analysis, among others

To further aid you, we have provided here a resource area with industry specific information and other industry resources to help you successfully start and run your business.

  1. Singapore Business Opportunities 
  2. Singapore Business Licences
  3. Singapore Tax Planning
  4. Singapore Company Incorporation
  5. Singapore Company Yearly Statutory Requirements
  6. Singapore Working Visa Guide

By Eric Eio
Managing Partner of Paul Hype Page & Co.

Eric was awarded an ACCA graduate in 2000 and also graduated from University of Sydney with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Accounting. Since graduation, he had worked in Big 4 as an auditor , including a one year overseas stint with Ernst & Young, Shanghai in 2005. He left his last appointment as an Audit Managerial position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Singapore in 2008 before setting up his own Certified Public Accountant Practice – Paul Hype Page & Co. His firm is being selected to be one of the advisory panel for Singapore top 500 SME.