I recalled a time when I first wanted to buy my first property. 

I contacted a few friends and they had recommended me to a negotiator whom they had engaged before. The negotiator mentioned was the same person. So, I called him up and communicated the criteria for my property. Subsequently, we searched, hunted, and shopped for properties which match close to my criteria. 

Finally, after months of viewings and negotiations, I bought my first property. 

Now as I look back at my journey of purchasing and renting out my properties, I discover that there are real estate professionals that stand out and would be an asset or a key player in building real estate wealth. But, such professionals need to be identified from many others that are not. So, the question is: ‘How do we, property buyers, sellers, and landlords, find such professionals?’. 

Here, I’ll list down 5 criteria that could help you select a suitable professional so that you can buy, sell and rent out properties faster at better prices. 

#1: Licensing 

First, it is important to note that – ‘Not all who call themselves ‘property agents’ are truly and indeed licensed as real estate agents under BOVAEAP which refers to the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers. Over here, we can start by identifying their current designations. 

Typically, there are 4 types of “property agents”: 

  • Unlicensed agents (no designation).
  • Real Estate Negotiators (REN). 
  • Probationary Estate Agents (PEA). 
  • Real Estate Agents (REA). 

REAs would rank the highest in terms of professional qualification because they have completed the necessary academic qualification (at minimum a Certificate of Estate Agency), 2 years’ worth of real estate activity logbook, and passed the required interview by the board (BOVAEAP).

PEAs are ranked second as they have the academic qualification, but they are in progression when it comes to their activity logbook. 

RENs are ranked third for one can be a negotiator by completing a 2-day course in real estate sales. 

Unlicensed agents, as the name suggests, are not affiliated with BOVAEAP.

So, if you want a professional who is knowledgeable, experienced and affiliated with a regulatory body, you can engage any one of the following: 

  • RENs = at least 2-3 years in the industry. 
  • PEAs
  • REAs

They should be able to show their respective “tags” during the course of work. 

#2: The Right Fit 

It is worth the time to find a professional whose “values” match closely to ours. 

For instance, if your plan is to: 

  • Invest for the long-term. 
  • Earn stable rent from working class families. 
  • Attain sustainable capital appreciation. 

Then, it is a “plus point” to hire a professional that is aligned with you on this. It is because such a professional is more active and familiar with sourcing for such deals in the market. There is no point in hiring a professional, who is passionate about flipping properties, as you know that is not your plan. Thus, the first step, when engaging a professional, is to know your objective for buying real estate. 

I would say, if you: 

  • Are an investor – Find a professional that serves “investors”.
  • Are a flipper – Find a professional that caters more for “flippers”. 
  • Want to buy a home – Find one that focuses on “homebuyers”.

But, here is an issue. 

Often, most real estate professionals would say that they can serve ‘everybody’, be it investors, flippers or homebuyers. So, how do we find out about their core values on properties? 

The answer is simple – “conversations”. Through conversing, I’ll learn about: 

  • Why did he or she join the real estate industry? 
  • What was his experience in real estate investing / ownership?
  • Where is his primary focus in his real estate dealings? 

Of which, I can determine if our values are aligned and if we may work together in sourcing and securing property deals. 

#3: Area Expertise

This is pretty straightforward. 

If you want to buy a property in Subang Jaya, it is practical to hire a professional in Subang Jaya for he or she is more sensitive to market activities in that vicinity and thus, could serve you efficiently. It doesn’t make sense for you to engage or hire one that is based in Cheras, Ampang, Month Kiara and so on and so forth. 

Here, do note this. There are professionals who sell properties “everywhere”. In most cases, they are not recommended as professionals who know many about a few places are ‘more valuable’ than professionals who know little about many places. 

#4: Marketing + Presentation 

This refers to a professional’s ability to be presentable. Here, this refers to one’s personal branding: Grooming, Dressing, Corporate Image, Website … etc. If one isn’t able to present himself well or professionally, how can he be trusted to sell properties or find any genuine deals for his clients (including yourself)?

So, if a professional: 

  • Dresses up smartly. 
  • Has decent conversation skills. 
  • Has a decent corporate website. 
  • Keeps his files and paperworks neat and tidy. 

My take is – He takes his profession more seriously and thus, can be trusted. 

In addition, it is a bonus if the professional is one who: 

  • Represents a larger estate agency. 
  • Has affiliation in business networking groups. 
  • Undertakes educational / upskilling courses. 
  • Involves in community groups (religion, charity, volunteer group … etc)

This is because the professional has a huge network of people that he could tap upon in: 

  • Sourcing property deals for buyers. 
  • Securing buyers for property sellers. 
  • Finding tenants for landlords. 

The larger his network, the more valuable he is as a professional. 

#5: Relationship Builders. 

As many professionals claim to be people-oriented, the truth is: ‘Most are not’.


This is because many professionals earn commission from securing deals. So for many of them, they could be ‘friendly’ to you up till they close the sale and had received their commissions. If that’s the case, they are “transaction-based” and they wouldn’t actively keep in touch with you as they need to secure new sales, new deals, and new customers elsewhere. 

However, if you happen to find one, who keeps you updated on recent property deals and industry news all the time, you might want to keep him around for he can be a diamond in the real estate industry as he is a relationship-builder. Over here, I prefer such a professional and will definitely keep in touch with him over coffee. I would like to buy him coffee. 


So once again, the 5 criteria are as follows:

  • Licensing: RENs / PEA / REA
  • Right Fit: Find professionals where their values are aligned with ours. 
  • Focused on Key Areas
  • Marketing + Presentation 
  • Find ones that are relationship-builders

That’s my take for hiring a good real estate professional. If you have more ideas on how to identify the ones who are good, please feel free to leave your ideas / comments below:

Ian Tai
Ian Tai

Financial Content Machine. Dividend Investor. Produced 500+ Financial Articles featured in KCLau.com in Malaysia and the Fifth Person, Value Invest Asia, and Small Cap Asia in Singapore. Regular Host and Presenter of a Weekly Financial Webinar with KCLau.com. Co-Founded DividendVault.com, an online membership site that empowers retail investors to build a stock portfolio that pays rising dividends year after year in Malaysia and Singapore.

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