JIS News

The Real Estate Board (REB) is appealing to the public to desist from conducting business with unregistered developers or real estate dealers, to reduce incidents of fraud.
The appeal comes in light of continuous appeals from the public for assistance in matters involving unscrupulous developers, real estate dealers and salesmen, who are usually not registered by the Board.Sandra Watson, Senior Inspector at the REB told JIS News that the problem was widespread and attributed it to ignorance on the part of the consumer.
She advised, that before entering into any real estate transaction, the consumer should contact the Board to ascertain if the developer, real estate dealer or salesperson was registered or licensed to conduct real estate business.
“By dealing with registered real estate dealers and salesmen, the Board can ensure that at least bankruptcy and police checks are conducted and also make sure that the person does not have a history of fraud or dishonesty,” she informed.
“At least you will have the reassurance that you are dealing with somebody, who we [the Board] can call to account for their behaviour,” she added.
In addition, clients should ask to see the licence of the developer or real estate dealer to determine whether or not they are registered because each should possess a licence issued by the Board.
The licence should be renewed every year and the first four numbers begin with the year of registration. So for this year, licences would begin with 2005.
“If you deal with somebody outside of being licensed, you run the risk of the persons not giving you what you are contracted to receive,” Mrs. Watson said.
A list of the 276 licensed real estate dealers can be found on the REB website @ www.reb.gov.jm. The list covers all the parishes from Trelawny, which has one registered dealer to Kingston and St. Andrew with 170. As for licensed salesmen and developers, this information is also available on the website. Persons can also call the Board at 926-9748/9 and 960-9287. “There is simply no excuse to deal with persons not authorised to transact real estate business,” she stressed.
In addition to conducting real estate transactions with registered parties, Mrs. Watson implored clients to do a title search of the property being purchased, to ascertain if there were any mortgages, liens or other charges on the property. “You do not want to purchase something with a lien or mortgage and not be aware of it,” she noted.
Persons may visit the National Land Agency (NLA) to access information about titles and to see if there are any problems relating to the title in question. This, she said, was in addition to securing competent legal advice.
Mrs. Watson also cautioned persons about conducting real estate business without receiving proper receipts and sale agreements. “The Board needs to ensure that when you complain, you hand in supporting documents like receipts and copies of your sale agreement. These are necessary because when we investigate complaints and the matter ends up in court, we have documentary evidence,” she explained.
“Time and time again we get complaints and we are unable to help purchasers because they did not do the necessary ground work when they were attempting to make a purchase,” she lamented.
The Real Estate Board, which came into operation in 1988, regulates and controls the practise of real estate businesses; supervises land development; and, registers and licenses real estate dealers and salesmen and ensures that they conduct their business in a professional manner among other functions.

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