A GROUP of real estate professionals, including developers, is calling on lawmakers to amend the outdated Real Estate Service Act of 2009 (Resa) by filing a class-action Petition for Declaratory Relief before the Makati Regional Trial Court, Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The group led by Filipino Homes founder Anthony Gerard Leuterio formed A Better Real Estate Philippines (ABREP), a movement that seeks to promote inclusivity and the use of technology in the real estate industry.
ABREP’s petition is supported by some of the largest real estate groups in the Philippines, including the Chamber of Real Estate Builders’ Association (Creba), the National Real Estate Association (NREA) and various other developer representatives.
Leuterio, who is also the president of ABREP, described some provisions of Resa Law to be “anti-poor, anti-Pinoy, and anti-technology.”
“Resa is anti-poor because it forces unnecessary educational requirements that drive the cost of becoming a practitioner astronomically high,” said Leuterio.
He pointed out that under Section 14 of Resa, applicants for the Professional Regulation Commission’s (PRC) broker licensure exam are required to hold a four-year degree in Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Management (BSREM).
The degree alone would cost one some P300,000 to complete, “the most expensive licensure process in the world.” It, however, only produces 100 graduates per year.
“The backlog is a major problem in the Philippines, but we cannot sell enough units due to the lack of salespersons,” said NREA president Benny Cabrieto. “There are less than 100 BSREM graduates per year, and not all pass the board. Even the good schools do not offer this course.”
Leuterio proposed to decrease BSREM’s units to those who are required to practice.
Moreover, the Resa law, according to the movement, is also “anti-Pinoy” as it also failed to protect Filipino real estate professionals against foreign “colorum” practitioners who are selling Philippine properties to their fellow citizens in the country.
“This has to stop because they are not allowed to practice that here,” said Leuterio, adding that doing such would protect the real estate industry and the thousand jobs that depend on it.
Another controversial provision in Resa is Section 32, specifically the so-called 1:20 ratio. The law requires that corporations have at least one licensed broker for every 20 accredited salespersons.
Leuterio said such provision limits the potential of real estate to become the country’s major economic driver. He said given the 6.5 million housing backlog, there is an apparent need for more real estate marketers.
“Our intent with the filing of the petition for Declaratory Relief is to start overhauling the industry’s regulatory framework to make the profession more inclusive and accessible,” said ABREP partner and legal advisor Estrella Elamparo.
This is not the first time that Resa has been challenged. Creba also attempted to get lawmakers to pay attention to amendments in previous years.
Creba national president Noel Cariño emphasized that the provisions not only affect practitioners, but also developers.
“We are not anti-regulatory, but the problem lies in the 1-is-to-20 provision. Where did you get that number?” said Cariño. “Now, we are saying that technology will allow you to reach as many people as you want, but how can you say that the ‘magic 20’ will ensure optimal real estate marketing?”
“What we need are people to sell. There are towns without licensed brokers,” added Bria Homes president Red Rosales. “How are we going to sell our house and lot units if there would be no sellers?”
The 1:20 rule, according to Leuterio, needs to be amended given the rapid progress in technology. He said there have been cases where web platforms designed to connect salespersons to buyers have been misconstrued as being structured the same as traditional brokerage firms. As a result, salespersons have allegedly been falsely accused of violating the 1-is-to-20 rule.
“Resa is anti-technology as it was crafted in the pre-automation era, at a time when we couldn’t imagine the level of technology we have now,” said Leuterio.
“Real estate is a numbers game. It’s not enough that you produce house and lot projects. You also need to sell them. The overseas Filipino is a big market for us. So how are we going to reach them without technology?” Rosales added.
The group hopes the lawmakers would heed its appeal given the contribution of real estate in the country’s economy, particularly in providing homes and generating jobs both indirect and direct.
The Resa Law took effect in 2009. (KOC)