Real estate agents are struggling to keep their business going as both primary and secondary property markets took a further dip in the first quarter of the year.
While developers are able to throw in “freebies” such as discounts and special schemes for new properties, real estate agents are finding it hard to compete with such stiff competition, especially for sub-sale properties.
A real estate agent who only wanted to be known as Michael said he has opted to be a driver for ride-sharing service Grab to keep up with his financial commitments every month.
“In 2012, I was doing very well and I could make five figures almost each month as my property listings in Bangsar, Damansara and some parts of Johor and Ipoh were doing great.
“I used to sell about two to three high-end properties a month but now I hardly sell one and even if I do, the property would be a mid-range one.
“So when the property market started to slow down from 2014 onwards, it became difficult for me to pay instalments for my car and house so I chose to become a Grab driver to cover my expenses,” said the 38-year-old man.
Another agent, Derrick, said his business dropped by 40 per cent since the slowdown happened.
The 42-year-old, whose listings are mostly in the Klang Valley, said he too was struggling to make ends meet, especially after having his first child early this year.
“I can only hope for the economy to recover soon so people will start making purchases,” he told Malay Mail Online.
In Kota Kinabalu, a real estate agent, who chose to be identified as May, said she and her colleagues still had many enquiries but mostly for rentals in the secondary market for landed properties.
“The demand for landed properties in good locations is still very strong for both rental and sale.
“I receive calls for landed properties within the range of RM600,000 to RM800,000 almost every day.
“Houses for rent in strategic locations between the budget of RM1,500 to RM2,500 are also in demand,” she said.
May, who has been a property agent in Sabah for 16 years, said middle- to high-income earners were still looking at buying.
“But because the economy is bad, a lot of sellers are willing to let go of their properties below market value or at market value which definitely was not the case a few years ago when the economy was good.
“It’s a good time to pick up ‘cheap and undervalued’ properties,” she said.
When contacted, Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents chairman Erick Kho said property agents should re-evaluate their services and listings.
He said agents must maintain a good rapport with clients to attract referrals.
“Apart from that, agents must ensure their listings are in good locations and advise sellers on how to make a property more presentable.
“Of course, people wouldn’t want to lease or buy a property that is in deplorable condition and priced exorbitantly, so the onus is on agents to provide such advice to sellers,” Kho said.
The property market has been experiencing a slowdown in the past two years and according to data from the National Property Information Centre, there were a total of 18,908 unsold units in the first quarter of 2016.
These unsold residential and commercial properties translate to RM9.4 billion in value; an increase of 16 per cent in units and 15.8 per cent in value from the fourth quarter of 2015.
A. RUBAN, OPALYN MOK AND JULIA CHAN