Government reaffirms enhancement of estate agents' professionalism

The Government is firmly committed to the further enhancement of the caliber and professionalism of real estate agents to meet the expectations of the community, the Deputy Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Housing), Mr. Tam Wing-pong, said.

Addressing a delegation of American realtors today (14 November) at a seminar organized by the Society of Hong Kong Real Estate Agents on housing policy of Hong Kong , Mr. Tam said that local real estate agents still had some way to go and a lot to learn in attaining the high standards of services exemplified by their counterparts in countries like the United States or the United Kingdom.

Mr. Tam said that the Government was pleased to note the effort made by the members of the trade to improve their professionalism and the quality of their services to their clients since the enactment of the Estate Agents Ordinance and the establishment of the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) in 1997.

However, "occasional incidents still abound to mar the image of the trade, for which the Government does have some concern," he said.

"While the EAA has stepped up disciplinary actions against estate agents in substantiated cases and has required estate agency firms to tighten up their operations, there is strong public call for further enhancement of the caliber and professionalism of estate agents," he said.

Mr. Tam said that the Government would continue to work closely with the EAA and trade associations of the estate agency sector to strengthen the qualifying examinations to ensure intake of high-quality practitioners, and to beef up training for practitioners to ensure that they continuously enhance their skills and standards.

Stressing the important role played by estate agents in promoting the healthy development of the residential property market in Hong Kong, Mr. Tam said the quality of their service has a direct bearing on the fair and orderly conduct of property transactions, which in turn affects homebuyers' and investors' confidence and willingness in purchasing properties.

In his speech, Mr. Tam outlined an overview of the housing policy in Hong Kong, which was clearly spelt out in the Government's Statement on Housing Policy announced in November 2002.

"The Government will confine itself to the provision of public rental housing for families who cannot afford private housing, and underlined the importance of maintaining a stable environment to foster the sustained and healthy development of the property market on a level playing field and keeping market intervention to a minimum," he stressed.

Mr. Tam also noted that with the free interplay of market forces restored after government ceased its intervention in late 2002, the residential property market has regained its ability to adjust its own momentum.

He said that earlier this year, in its observation from the latest "Article IV" consultation with Hong Kong, the International Monetary Fund highlighted the progress the HKSAR Government made in reducing its direct involvement in the property market and its efforts in enhancing the transparency of land supply situation.

"Such international recognition gives us added assurance that our repositioned housing policy is heading in the right direction," Mr. Tam said.

End/Monday, 14 November, 2005