Entrepreneur

BOVAEA Suggests That Property-Based Platforms Are Illegal. Here's What I Think.

Yesterday there was plenty of mainstream media coverage on ‘illegal’ websites and applications that encourage landlords to use the said services instead of the real estate agents. I was appalled that such a tactic was deployed to scare the market. This is seen as a high-handed approach to cripple competition.

At Speedrent, we champion innovation by providing landlords and tenants with a compelling alternative to rent property directly. IFCA MSC, a public-listed company recently launched a brilliant innovation called property365.my that allows people to book a newly launched property directly. Collectively in this article, I’ll refer to such services as ‘The New Media’.

The Internet has flattened the world by allowing people to communicate whenever, wherever cost effectively and conveniently. Any attempt to undo this progression, should be seen as backward and uncivilised!

The Board of Valuers, Appraisers, and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) Estate Agency Practice committee member K Soma Sundram went as far as saying – “if transactions were made and commissions were received, then it means that the law has been broken.” Going by this logic, as long as competitors do not charge commission, even if they were to provide similar solutions – they would be totally fine.

How does this even make a logical argument?  

Image Credit: The Edge Property
Image Credit: The Edge Property

I always love to cite the travel industry as a way to show the way forward for the property industry. All Gen X must have experienced this – how would you have planned for a vacation with your family when you were young?

Your mom and dad had to drive or call a travel agency to book the hotel, air tickets or they had to buy travel packages to enjoy the vacation. Your parents needed to wait on the line for the travel agency operator to perform searches on your behalf, while you give them instructions as to which seat you prefer and when do’d like to fly. The entire transaction might’ve taken more than 30 minutes to complete.

Today, I trust that your default means to book air tickets and hotel rooms are done online. Whole transaction can be completed within 10 minutes, no phone calls, hassle-free. Confirmation is done instantly, without dealing with anyone. It’s a self-service solution that everyone loves!

We enjoy the convenience because the Internet has the power to transform industries that are inefficient by removing the barriers to communication. By communicating in real time, everything became faster, cheaper and more efficient. However, the property sector is a slow adapter of new technology, and Speedrent sees an opportunity to transform this industry for everyone.

The State Of The Industry

Image Credit: The Borneo Post
Image Credit: The Borneo Post

When we started Speedrent, we conducted a survey on our users’ preferences of employing agents. We were astonished by the result. The survey had a total of 7837 respondents, and 89.7 % of the respondents said that they did not prefer using an agent! Can you believe that most of us are using a service that we do not like?

Why is that? Because there wasn’t any other alternative. Why is that? Because the laws have protected this industry.

Because the laws say so, we are forced to use services that we do not enjoy. And it prohibits us from using any other services that we wish to.

Why isn’t BOVAEA taking a more progressive view and why aren’t they engaging with the public to find the reason behind the public’s distaste with real estate professionals?

Why isn’t BOVAEA taking up the role to engage with ‘new media’ to find ways to help real estate agents to move up the value chain by doing something more productive?

Why is BOVAEA using scare tactics and hiding behind the law to stop people from using the services that people love?

We live in a democratic country.

Law has to progress with time. Law has to protect and provide choices as long as it’s beneficial to the public. Law is not supposed to used as a mean to crush competition that is in favour of the public.

Every marketplace that operates with an online marketplace business model takes a percentage cut out of a transaction because that is a service that it provides. It provides efficiency and connects sellers and buyers directly by cutting out the middlemen.

The New Media is so happen to operate a marketplace for the property industry. It’s an industry standard business model for online marketplaces to take fees. It is an evolution of business, and give people a chance to choose!

The New Media operates a marketplace. We do not provide agent service. Just because we take a percentage cut, does not mean that we are an agent. We are a platform.

BOVAEA, people are wise enough to choose what’s best for them. Instead of stopping innovation from happening, why not figure out a way to compete effectively with The New Media?

The views and conclusions in this article represent the views solely of the author and does not represent the views of Vulcan Post.

Whei Meng is a serial internet entrepreneur. Speedrent is his fourth startup that connects landlords and tenants directly, safely, easily and cost effectively.

You can reach out to him at wm@speedrent.com or connect with him @ LinkedIn

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