When it comes to buying, renting or selling property, people often take help from estate agents. But who are these real estate agents? Where to find them? The usual answer with most of us is the our typical neighbourhood ‘smart man’, who sits in his one room office with a tin sheet banner proclaiming his real estate agents profile. He will have some helpers (not always) running around on their motorbikes showing the best property available in the neighbourhood.
If you do rent the place, he’ll (it’s usually a ‘he’) charge you a month’s rent as fee, and, if the houseowner too has asked him to look for a tenant, he’ll charge the house owner a similar amount. That’s the last you’ll probably see of him, and, effectively, you pay him a handsome sum for having taken you to this house. Not surprising that many of us end up feeling cheated, and never quite sure if we negotiated the correct rent.
Real estate, despite its significance, has remained a largely disorganised sector. While the building materials, construction equipment and finance sectors have moved up, the transaction processes continue to remain hungry for reform. The realtors or brokers who are in the interface with consumers in transactions are yet to match their counterparts in the international markets.
Ten years ago, in 1998, this concern was felt by realtors which led to the formation of BRA-I (Bangalore Realtors Association-India). Irshad Ahmed, founder and the present secretary of BRA-I wants to take the process to a higher level and a better level too.
G-9, Copper Arch,
83, Infantry Road,
"There will be more than 1000 estate agents working in the city. Anyone who has a cell phone becomes an estate agent. But not all these thousand people should be trusted," says Ahmed, who remains the secretary of the association since its birth. So does that mean that BRA-I follows certain criterion to maintain credibility of agent? Ahmed gives a instantaneous and prompt "Yes".
To become a member of this association a real-estate agent needs to get himself registered with the Government of Karnataka and have at least two years of experience in the field of real estate. It mandates that the agency be a taxpayer, must have an office, should not have a criminal record, should not deliberately mislead the client on any matter, and a whole lot of other things.
Real estate agents or brokers are generally paid through the sales commissions by the seller/buyer when a transaction closes. Ahmed says that BRAI members will need subscribe to a code of ethics (these guidelines are being formulated with inputs from lawyers) and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. Realtors found engaging in wrong doings (from citizen complaints) will be asked to leave the association.
According to Ahmed these initiatives will also enable someone in US, who plans to buy or rent a house in Bangalore to approach his local (US) agency, who will immediately connect with member agencies in Bangalore to find the required property. More professional agencies are also becoming full-service outfits – that manage the entire requirements of a house owner who, for instance, does not reside in the same city. Everything from finding tenants and collecting the rent to paying the taxes and bills, and doing repairs. And payments for finding a tenant will be collected only from either the house owner or the tenant, not both.
Hussain Sait, President Emeritus, Prospect Realtors
Farook Mahmood, President, Silverline Realty Private Ltd.
N R B Garda, Vice President, Apex Estate And Property
Irshad Ahmed, Secretary, Irshad’s Property Matters
Haseeb Noor, Joint Secretary, Townscape Real Estate
Ayub Khan, Treasurer, Apex Estates & Properties
Executive committee Members
Siddique Beary, Bearys Real Estates
Pradeep Joe, First Estate
Rebekka Ninan, Rnu Partnership
Salahudeen, Estate Plus
Furthermore, Ahmed mentions that with the number of people indulging into realty, the quality has deteriorated thus BRA-I according to him was a move to bring back the quality on which this business thrived on. This association therefore insists that brokers maintain transparency — being clear about the commission amount, making it very clear to the customer and the builder that the agent is not getting money from both sides.
Presently, there are 131 members in the association and the numbers are growing fast, says Ahmed. The members hold regular meetings to discuss troubles of the estate agents and also ways to improve the working styles, says Ahmed. BRA-I’s Board has 10 members, and meetings are held once every month. The next being scheduled on 25th October. All board members (10 in number) attend this meeting, says Ahmed. The association also has an Annual General Meeting for all members.
BRA-I is also a member of National Association of Realtors India (NAR-India). NAR-India is the single national level umbrella organization representing the interests of thousands of realtors operating all over the country. It aims to elevate the standards of real estate brokerage business to a global level. Farook Mahmood is the president and Ahmed is the vice president.
So how does BRA-I help citizens and how do we get to them? BRA-I has five sub committees formed to resolve public issues on property matters. People can approach these committees through the email addresses mentioned in the box.
"We are planning to redesign the website for BRA-I with the list of members and the contact details of the sub committees. This will help citizens interact with the association and get guidance," adds Ahmed. (BRA-I’s website is currently down.)
Acting as a credible voice for realtors, BRA-I’s aims to streamline and promote real estate brokerage in order to achieve transparency and fair dealing in the industry.
BRAI GRIEVANCE CELL
BRAI LEGAL AFFAIRS
BRAI SOCIAL & PROMOTIONS
BRAI MEMBERSHIP & WEBSITE
20 October 2008: Added information about NAR-India, and its office-bearers Farook Mahmood and Irshad Ahmed.