Real estate agents across India have come together to form a national association for the first time, aiming to self-regulate their profession and to bring international practices to a predominantly unorganized sector.
To be called, National Association of Realtors India (NARI), the group has been registered under the Registrar of Societies Act as a not-for-profit organization. It has also tied up with US-based National Association of Realtors, which has more than 800,000 members and also has the trademark rights to the use of ‘realtors ’.
“There is a lot of discrepancy in the real estate business” because of the way agents function, said Farook Mahmood, founder president of NARI and managing director of Bangalore-based Silverline Realty. “We hope to evolve a uniform code of ethics for the members and also have provisions for punitive actions.”
An integral part of the new body is the certification course. This course, to be made compulsory for all its members, will contain real estate mathematics, code of conduct and knowledge of real estate issues. The preliminary version of the course material, with some local content added, runs into 500 pages.
“It is a great step as more and more real estate companies are getting listed, and there will be a need for greater accountability and transparency,” said Arvind Parekh, chief executive officer of corporate strategy and finance, Omaxe Ltd. “They will have to work in the interest of the investor and the end user. This move will also help in weeding out the shady real estate agents.”
At present, regional associations from seven cities, including Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad, have agreed to take part in the national-level association. The plan is to increase participation to 10 cities by the end of first year of operations. The association also plans to establish an office in New Delhi withiin two months.
The real estate agents profession is unregulated in India. As a result, there are no standards in terms of service conditions or charges. The regional associations formed in the last seven or eight years in major cities have tried to address this issue. For example, one of the admission criteria of the Chennai Real Estate Agents Association is regular filing of income tax returns, according to Abdur Ravoof, secretary of the association.
The national association, according to Ravoof, “will bring all agents under one umbrella, with common ethics and code on an all-India basis.”
“The best regulation for any industry is self-regulation where the norms are set by the players themselves,” said B.P. Dhaka, chief operating officer (Madhya Pradesh and corporate governance) of Parsvanth Developers Ltd. “Real estate industry already has bodies such as Credai (an association of developers) and National Association of Real Estate Development Companies. For any trade, it helps when the industry is better organized.”