The long awaited discussion on the regulation and organisation of the real estate industry has come through the white paper. There are various elements that do give rise to a discussion. It seems that the two items that were given priority in the discussion is the education required and the valuation of property matters.
Malta Developers Association (MDA) seems not to be in favour that person acting as agents or brokers have the requirement of having some basic formal knowledge one would be expected to have in order to better deal and advise clients. Some of the items mentioned in the paper is knowledge on legislation, valuation methods, ethics and procedural matters including planning issues. MDA seems to argue that all this acquired by what they called the University of Life. It is a fact that during life we learn through experiences. Education accelerates this process and allows us to build a strong foundation to learn even more. Learning through experiences in this sector means learning at the expense of others. Therefore MDA does not want to invest in its own education and that of its members as they expect their clients to pay for their education through mistakes that could be very expensive and unsustainable for some.
The second main issue seems to be whether the real estate persons should be allowed to do a valuation of property or not. On this there was also reaction of the Chamber of Architects. First and foremost, valuation is not a precise science and therefore there could be different results on the same property depending on the point of reasoning taken. For example is valuation the cost of building a building, what could be built in its stead, at what price it could be sold or the cost of replacing it. On various fronts this is the role of the architects although on market perceptions issue one may argue that the real estate operators may have some knowledge. However, how do the real estate operators pretend to be credible and to do valuations whereby they are opposing education? An architect spends many years studying on various matters and carries various responsibilities at law. According to some , the real estate operators are in a position to do a valuation without studying and it is not clear whether they will carry responsibilities at law.
Although the white paper needs adaptation to local needs as some parts particularly in education it seems a text copied from some other country, it is indeed a step in the right direction and Government should be encouraged to continue discussion on the market in order to improve this sector. This is particularly more so when these operators now interact and deal with foreigners investing in our countries some of which may be very sophisticated investors coming through incentives such as the Individual Investor Programme. We wish to give persons investing a highly educated and excellent service.