Business

More agents, fewer agencies in property market

A more optimistic property market last year led to a bump in the number of registered property agents this year, reversing a three-year slide.

There were 28,571 registered property agents in Singapore as at Jan 1, 174 more than last year, according to figures from the Council of Estate Agents (CEA) yesterday.

CEA's director of policy and licensing Chia I-Ling said the increase could be attributed to a "positive outlook on the real estate market".

This was particularly evident in the private market, said Mr Thomas Tan, president of the 3,500 member-strong Singapore Estate Agents Association.

Pent-up demand pushed total private home transactions to 23,113 from January to November last year, compared with 16,378 for the whole of 2016.

Mr Tan said last year's collective sale fever helped to boost sentiment among agents, new and old: "Developers were feeling bullish, so they made attractive en bloc offers, and that sentiment passed on to agents."

More new agents - 1,344 of them - entered the market last year, higher than 2016's 1,189 and 2015's 1,299.

But even as the number of registered agents is on the rise, the number of agencies continued to dwindle.

There were 1,269 registered agencies as of Jan 1, compared with 1,286 last year and 1,369 in 2016.

Mr Lim Yong Hock, key executive officer of PropNex Realty, said "many small to mid-sized firms might choose not to continue operating on their own and will instead consolidate their business with the bigger players".

Last year saw four agencies merge: PropNex and Dennis Wee Group in June, while OrangeTee and Edmund Tie & Company joined forces in August.

PropNex is now the largest with 6,684 agents, with more than 800 agents over the second-largest ERA Realty.

Property