Mumbai is famous for its Bollywood, Business and Real Estate, and to buy or rent an expensive home to a single room apartment, one is dependent on a real estate broker.
Till a few years ago, before the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), anyone and everyone was a property broker, even the man selling pan (betel) at the local corner could help you with buying or renting an apartment. The barber shop at the chowk was one of the most accessible locations for locals to put their home on sale or rent.
Since 2017, since the Maharashtra government applied RERA to the real estate sector, anyone who chooses to be a real estate agent is required to get registered with Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA).
In the last five years 38,908 real estate agents across Maharashtra were granted registration by MahaRERA of the total 40,872 applications it received.
However, to become a real estate agent in Mumbai and Maharashtra has now become somewhat tedious. The reason is one now has to pass an exam, get a certificate of competency and only then will he or she be allowed to practice their profession.
On Wednesday (11 January), MahaRERA came out with a circular, introducing real estate agent training and certification programme. This will come into effect for all renewal as well as fresh registrations from 1 May 2023, and all brokers need to get a Certificate of Competency before 1 September 2023.
Section 9 of the RERA Act mandates every real estate agent to be registered with MahaRERA before facilitating the sale or purchase of or act on behalf of any person to facilitate the sale or purchase of any plot, apartment, unit or building; as the case may be of a real estate project or part of it being sold by a developer and accordingly.
The circular states, "Real estate agents being the public face and an intermediary between the home buyers and promoters it is essential that real estate agents have comprehensive understanding of the real estate transactions in order to guide the home buyers through each stage of purchase of any plot, apartment unit or building so as to avoid any misunderstanding and disputes."
In order to bring about certain level of consistency in the practices of real estate agents, enhance knowledge and awareness of the legal framework and regulatory practices, enforcement of code of conduct and a view to ensure that real estate agents are professionally qualified to help and assist home buyers - MahaRERA has proposed to introduce real estate agent formal training and certification course across the State of Maharashtra.
This will enable homebuyers to get comprehensive professional advice and expertise inputs, in order to make informed decisions in the real estate market.
MahaRERA, over the past 2 years, in consultation with associations of real estate agents, homebuyers, promoters and All India Institute of Local Self Governance (AIILSG), has developed the basic curriculum for training and has empaneled training providers for imparting it as per the convenience of the real estate agents. This will include online, physical and hybrid forms with effect from first week of February 2023.
Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) will undertake online examinations so that real estate agents who qualify it are provided with "Certificate of Competency".
From 1 May 2023, only those real estate agents who have a valid MahaRERA Real Estate Agent Certificate of Competency can apply for MahaRERA real estate agent registration and renewal of registration.
The circular clarifies that this new clause will apply to all individual real estate agents in case of individuals and authorized signatory (authorized for making application for MahaRERA real estate agent registration); in case of firms, companies, organizations (Other than Individuals).
It will also be applicable to all employees / staff / officers by whatever designation, working in firms / companies / organizations of real estate agents; who interact with homebuyers and allottees for effecting transactions in real estate projects.
Existing registered real estate agents shall obtain MahaRERA Real Estate Agent Certificate of Competency before 1 September 2023, and upload the same at their respective web page, failing which action shall be initiated by the Authority.
From 1 September 2023, developers of real estate projects shall ensure that the real estate agents they dealt with and that the names and addresses of whom they provide to MahaRERA, shall be only such real estate agents who have "MahaRERA real estate agent certificate of competency".
Surprisingly, most real estate agents are welcoming this decision while some demand a few concessions. Yashika Rohiira, a Bandra based real estate agent says, "This is a very good decision, it is good for both the agent as well as the homebuyer. There are many who have been in business for years, but still don't know the basics. Being aware about the basics like Completion certificate, and other legalities will benefit the agent in making a deal better."
This comes after a move in the last decade, where several broker associations wanted to uplift the image of their professions and asked agents to wear a tie, behave professionally and also asked to identify themselves as 'realtors' not 'brokers'. All this to make them and their profession acquire the corporate look.
Gopal Maheshwari, who has dealt in Mumbai's poshest locations like Malabar Hill, Altamount Road and others for several decades, claims that while it is a good decision to educate brokers, it shouldn't be applicable retrospectively and should be implemented only for the new and upcoming agents.
Another broker from Mumbai held that there are many real estate agents who aren't educated yet know their work well and have been performing it efficiently. This move may impact their business.
Varun Singh, is a Mumbai-based journalist and tracks politics and other important news from the western region of the country. Varun has spent close to 18 years in journalism.
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