Assessing professionalism of real estate agency practices in Kampala
Jumba, Swamadu Sali
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ABSTRACT The study aimed at assessing the professionalism of the real estate agency in Kampala. It encompassed four specific objectives; determining the current practices of real estate agency in Kampala, determining the effects of real estate agency practices in Kampala, establishing the challenges hindering professionalization of real estate agency sector and recommending ways in which the real estate industry can be professionalized. A sample size of 50 practicing real estate agents working within Kampala and registered with Association of Real Estate Agency the Uganda real estate agency regulatory body. The selection was based on purposive sampling method. The study identified various characteristics of informal and formal real estate agents. The major deferential characteristic was that the informal agents had no permanent addresses and trading licensees for the operation of the business. This has led to an influx of practitioners causing several unprofessional practices in society. Therefore, there is little or no public trust in real estate agents across the country. However, some of the agents who have been long serving members in the community have gained some level of public trust and experience in providing reliable real estate agency. The formal agents normally have a known address and are formally registered thus belonging to a professional body in charge of their regulation such as AREA Uganda. The findings of the study indicated some current major unprofessional practices in Kampala such as setting unrealistic prices, non-contractual operations (without written agreements), fraud, frustrating undecided buyers, failure to pay brokers commission and so on. These practices resulted into various catastrophes such as promotion of misleading information that fluctuated the property market with speculative prices listed, loss of trust in estate agency industry services, destruction of the reputation of professional agents to mention but a few. The study further revealed that there have been challenges hindering the formalizing of this sector to prevent and reduce some of the problems and pave way for a better industry. Some of these challenges included reluctance of the public officials responsible to formalize the sector, lack of sufficient funds for financing the formalization of the industry and extensive consultations regarding enacting of the regulation laws. The major challenge highlighted was bureaucracy in establishment of the law to legally enforce the regulation of the industry and change the image of real estate agency in Kampala. A number of strategies and steps were suggested in order to improve real estate agency in Kampala to formalized standard and enhance the benefits for the public and the agents as well. The major recommendation was formation of a legally binding and enforceable regulatory body to manage and regulate professional practice in the real estate industry. The study also suggested a number of measures to effectively implement these recommendations into practice so as to actually achieve professionalism in the industry such as conducting a proper registration, licensing and general regulation of the practice. Some of the supplementary recommendations were establishment of registration exemptions to incorporate the existing agents and other persons involved in the real estate agency sector.