Who are real estate agents?

Who are real estate agents?


You may have encountered or potentially will encounter one or more of these situations when in the Philippines:
  • You are walking in the mall and then someone offers you a flyer for a specific real estate project, some of them are very persistent and insist you take their flyer for further reading.
  • You receive an email about a new project being developed and they are asking if you would like to come into the showroom
  • You are driving around and you notice someone along the road near a mini tent flagging you down and offering a flyer and asking if you would like to view property
  • Someone comes up to you out of the blue asking if you would like to invest in real estate or sell your properties
  • You get a cold call, IM or message offering real estate projects for sale
  • You see some TV, billboard, print or online ads or hear a radio broadcast promoting some real estate project and some number or website is mentioned.
People in the real estate industry use various means physically, verbally, online and offline to reach their target audience. It is best to know what titles are used to thresh out the legitimate sources from noise.

What People Are Calling Themselves in Real Estate?



Upon meeting people in the real estate industry, they might introduce themselves using any of the following terms:
  • real estate agent
  • real estate broker
  • agent
  • salesperson
  • salesman/woman
  • realtor
They might also be handing out their business card or flyer with their contact information and giving it to you. 
So do you entertain all these people? It can be overwhelming to get so much information and from various sources. Also what is concerning is which of these people are really legitimate?

Why Extreme Care is Needed in Real Estate?



So let's take a step back. Real estate transactions typically require a large financial commitment so you want to make sure you are dealing with the right people who can care for your needs. You want real estate agents who have all of the following qualities (not meant to be an all-inclusive list):
  • Professional - able to provide a high level of service and will be responsible for all their actions.
  • Ethical - able to act and transact in the right moral way for all parties involved.
  • Lawful - able to act in accordance with the law to avoid any penal outcomes
  • Knowledgeable - able to explain all information relating to a given transaction or product or service.
  • Trustworthy - able to do what they say and say what they do
  • Good listeners - able to put themselves in your shoes when gathering requirements
  • Honest - able to call it out as it is with no sugar coating, no sales talk
A real estate agent having these qualities will give you peace of mind as you work together to reach your real estate goals.

So next up we will check the letter of the law to check definitions as well as understand some information that makes one's profession legitimate under certain government agencies.

Where are Types Real Estate Practitioners?


You can find the answers in Republic Act 9646 also called the Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines. This law also goes by other names such as the following:
  • RESA Law
  • RESA
  • RA 9646
RESA Law was ratified on June 29, 2009. This Republic Act serves to further professionalize the real estate industry in the Philippines. It is the law that includes definitions of the official types of real estate practitioners, their functions, licensure exams, penal codes, and much more.

Let's next dig deeper into the specific practitioners.

Who are Real Estate Practitioners as Defined by the Law?


As per RESA Law's "Section 3. Definition of Terms and subsection (g)" is the following excerpt:

"(2) Real estate appraiser- a duly registered and licensed natural person who, for a professional fee, compensation or other valuable consideration, performs or renders, or offers to perform services in estimating and arriving at an opinion of or acts as an expert on real estate values, such services of which shall be finally rendered by the preparation of the report in acceptable written form.

(3) Real estate assessor - a duly registered and licensed natural person who works in a local government unit and performs appraisal and assessment of real properties, including plants, equipment, and machineries, essentially for taxation purposes.

(4) Real estate broker - a duly registered and licensed natural person who, for a professional fee, commission or other valuable consideration, acts as an agent of a party in a real estate transaction to offer, advertise, solicit, list, promote, mediate, negotiate or effect the meeting of the minds on the sale, purchase, exchange, mortgage, lease or joint venture, or other similar transactions on real estate or any interest therein.

(5) Real estate salesperson - a duly accredited natural person who performs service for, and in behalf of. a real estate broker who is registered and licensed by the Professional Regulatory Board of Real Estate Service for or in expectation of a share in the commission, professional fee, compensation or other valuable consideration."

Some key points to note and too simplify:

A real estate broker is duly registered and licensed. The salesperson, on the other hand, is duly accredited and ultimately reports up to a real estate broker.

A real estate appraiser and a real estate assessor generally are capable to perform the same services but the latter works for a government unit.

So in the Philippines, the term "real estate agent" or "agent" is loosely used to cover both real estate brokers and real estate salespersons.

Please also note that the term Realtor is also loosely used at times for agents. Note that REALTOR(R) is a registered trademark in the USA for the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

How to Verify a Real Estate Agent When Meeting in Person


Real Estate Brokers, upon request, should be able to show you their valid Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) license identification card. To get this card, Real Estate Brokers have to register and get licensed with PRC and the have to renew every three years. PRC is the same government agency that licenses all the other professionals like doctors, lawyers, nurses, accountants and so on and so forth.

Real Estate Salespersons on the other hand, upon request, should be able to show you their valid Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) accreditation identification card. To get this card Real Estate Salespersons must get accredited under a Real Estate Broker with PRC.

Additionally, if they are selling real estate projects that are preselling by developers, both Real Estate Brokers and Real Estate Salespersons, upon request, should be able to show you their Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) ID. 

How to Verify a Real Estate Broker Online with PRC


If showing the ID is not enough for you and you want to take it a step further to verify online with the governmental agency

1. Visiting the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) online verification system.

2a. If you choose the tab "VERIFICATION OF LICENSE (BY LICENSE NO.)"
  1. Set the following based on the ID for real estate brokers
    1. Profession * = "REAL ESTATE BROKER" 
    2. License No. *  = "1234567" note: must be the complete 7 digit license number including leading zeros found on the PRC ID
    3. Birthdate * = "mm/dd/yyyy", also found on the PRC ID
  2. Click on the green verify button below
  3. Results should pop up if the ID is a valid ID
2b. If you choose the tab "VERIFICATION OF LICENSE (BY NAME)"

  1. Set the following 
    1. Profession * = "REAL ESTATE BROKER"
    2. First Name * = FIRST NAME, name used when registered with PRC
    3. Last Name * = LAST NAME, name used when registered with PRC
  2. Click on the green verify button below
  3. Results should pop up if the ID is a valid ID
Please note the PRC website does not have a database of salespersons. I have yet to still find one to verify salespersons. But it is good to note that salespersons regardless of where you meet them should be able to let you know which broker they report to and be able to provide you the Name and PRC ID number of the said broker.

How to Verify a Real Estate Broker and Salesperson online with HLURB


The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board has their lists all online for the public.
  1. Launch HLURB List of Brokers and Salespersons 
  2. Click on the tab ether broker or salespersons
  3. Look for the relevant region
  4. Click on the "View List" link corresponding to the region of choice
  5. When the PDF file opens you may use "CONTROL - F" to find the name

How about unlicensed or unaccredited agents?


We find the relevant stipulations in RESA Law Section 29:

"Section 29. Prohibition Against the Unauthorized Practice of Real Estate Service. - No person shall practice or offer to practice real estate service in the Philippines or offer himself/herself as real estate service practitioner, or use the title, word, letter, figure or any sign tending to convey the impression that one is a real estate service practitioner, or advertise or indicate in any manner whatsoever that one is qualified to practice the profession, or be appointed as real property appraiser or assessor in any national government entity or local government unit, unless he/she has satisfactorily passed the licensure examination given by the Board, except as otherwise provided in this Act, a holder of a valid certificate of registration, and professional identification card or a valid special/temporary permit duly issued to him/her by the Board and the Commission, and in the case of real estate brokers and private appraisers, they have paid the required bond as hereto provided."

In short, they should not be practicing real estate.

Any risks when dealing with unlicensed or unaccredited agents?



We find the relevant stipulations in RESA Law's section on penal provisions:

"Section 39. Penal Provisions, - Any violation of this Act, including violations of implementing rules and regulations, shall be meted the penalty of a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than two (2) yearsor both such fine and imprisonment upon the discretion of the court.

In case the violation is committed by an unlicensed real estate service practitioner, the penalty shall be double the aforesaid fine and imprisonment.


In case the violation is committed, by a partnership, corporation, association or any other juridical person, the partner, president, director or manager who has committed or consented to or knowingly tolerated such violation shall be held directly liable and responsible for the acts as principal or as a co-principal with the other participants, if any."

Other than this, should something go wrong? The unlicensed or unaccredited agents have no accountability and they typically just disappear. However, when working with licensed and accredited agents, they are held accountable to the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) and/or the Housing and Land Use Regultory Board (HLURB)

Where to find brokers or salespersons?


Usually, you can find them in the following areas
  • Handing out flyers at the malls - This is the most obvious. These could be brokers and/or salespersons. For the most part they are usually just focused on one developer. Typically the developer disallows them to sell projects from other developers due to conflict of interest. Agents that work for developers are usually called agents that focus on project selling. If you meet a salesperson employed by the developer, they are supposed to report up to a broker within the developer company as well.
  • Brokerage companies - These are companies that have a mix of various projects for preselling as well as resale, lease, etc. and cover a various range of different type of products which include commercial sale and leasing. They typically have a brick and mortar office where one can walk in and obtain services.
  • Broker associations - these have been established to support and allow brokers to network with each other more efficiently. These have offices and websites with listings of brokers within the association for you to be able to contact.
  • Freelance - there are real estate practitioners that pretty much focus on the client at hand and support the client based on whatever need, be it preselling requirements to resale requirements. They are the most flexible of all. They typically also register with a Broker association. Others also promote themselves via their own website or social media network.
  • Friends also may refer to a real estate broker or salesperson to you. or you can also make a shout out in your own personal social media network.
Whatever you choose, just make sure to verify the validity of their credentials with PRC and/or HLURB and you are good to go.

Summary

So who are real estate agents in the Philippines? As per RESA Law, they are the Real Estate Brokers and Real Estate Sales Persons. Real Estate Salespersons report up to Brokers. Real Estate Brokers are registered and licensed by PRC, while Real Estate Salespersons are accredited under a Real Estate Broker under PRC. If these two practitioners are selling preselling projects, the need to be also accredited with HLURB. PRC and HLURB provide the necessary IDs for proper identification as well as online means to verify their validity.

To protect your interest and get professional services that accountable to a regulatory body, work with licensed and accredited real estate brokers and salespersons.

If you have any comments or questions feel free to use to comment form below.


References