Players in the Real Estate industry are seen to be rich, unfortunately, the story of a Real Estate Agent in Ghana is divergent. Every successful and financially well to do Real Estate Agent, have been through the unfairness and injustice in the industry.
Real Estate Brokers/Agents act as intermediaries between the producers (owners) and the consumers (Tenant’s and Buyers). Real estate agent is any person, who negotiates or acts on behalf of one person in a transaction of transfer of a landed property being plot, apartment or building, in the name of sales or rentals. Agents earn commission from the transactions they close or assist other agents close. People who introduces, prospective buyers, sellers and tenants to each other in such transactions are seen as agents.
Real Estate agency in Ghana has been fast growing; however it is yet to be well accepted by most consumers. The real Estate Agency sector has been like a city without a wall-people comes in and out without regulations or licensing. The Real Estate Agency Act 2020 (Act 1047) was to regulate agents and their transactions. Sad to say, we still haven’t seen the impact of the Act because the Real Estate Agency Council hasn’t been well resourced to start full operations. As at date, we don’t have any licensed agent in Ghana. Anyone can wake up one day and start practicing as an agent. Thanks be to some professional bodies like the Ghana Association of Real Estate Brokers (GAREB) and others who have been providing trainings and guidance for higher professionalism in the Real Agency business.
In the line of Agent providing their services they are faced with several injustices/unfairness from their clients. These include:
- Landlords’ refusal to pay commission. If you are working for the landlord you are entitled to your commission from their side by getting them a tenant or a buyer. Some landlords forget their agent’s commission with the excuse that the agent may be taking commission from the tenant. Some landlords sees no reason for paying agency commission for “just bringing a client” as they usually say. Agents go through a lot in the marketing of the property at a fee (social media, banners, signages etc.), cost in nurturing leads generated from the marketing (time responding to clients, communication cost, transportation cost etc.) and closing cost. After all these, some agents are being cheated by some landlords with respect to commissions.
- Tenant or Buyers refusal to pay commission. Agents have been suffering in the hands of some clients who contact them for assistance in the rental or sales request but refuse to pay commission due them. With my personal experience, I usually sign agency agreement with my client But unfortunately, since last year December, a client I assisted with his rental request still owes me my commission. Clients also are of the view that since you are bringing the landlord money, it’s up for them to pay the agents commission. Well, agents have to drive through some locations to look for more options for a client’s (buyer/seller) interest. After all these, some clients wouldn’t prefer any, and Agent would have to go extra mile finding other options. At times after all these options, client move on with other agents options without compensating the agent they earlier engaged.
- Circumvention by clients and other agents. In my practice as an agent, client who do not want to pay commission usually find ways to close deals with landlords without the knowledge and involvement of the agent who took them there. I remember showing a prospective buyer a house in Accra. This buyer requested for a site plan to conduct a search at the Lands commission. Before I realized she searched for the owner’s details on the social media for direct contact with the attempt of getting me out of the processes. There have been several times where clients will tell you they are not interested in a property but later goes to buy without your knowledge. Agents may work had to get options for a client request. Some wouldn't schedule for a viewing with you, but with the pictures and neighborhood characteristics, they visit the property you introduce to them without your assistance. On the other side, some Agents pose as clients in order to acquire details on a property introduced to them by other agents for them to circumvent instead of sharing commission. Agents are to corporate, close deals and share commissions to avoid unhealthy competitions and greediness. There is nothing wrong when an agent with a buyer (buyer’s agent) contacts another agent with agent (seller's agent) for a deal to be close and split share the commissions involved. It makes the interagency relationships beautiful and healthy.
- Third parties authorized by client taking deals from Agents hand. People like family and friends who view property on behalf clients mostly end up discouraging client from dealing with agents who fail to share commission with them. Other representatives go to the extent of tying knots with agents to increase prices for their personal gains. Some colleagues agents have complained bitterly on how some lawyers took their deals out of their hand. Some lawyers assisting client with documentation may end up discouraging client in order to impose other options they may directly benefit from on the client, just to mention a few. A recent experience I personally had was about a land at Aburi. I found about five (5) options for this client who engaged me to get her a plot of land at Aburi. Since, she was out of the country she asked a family friend to view on her behalf. My team drove all the way from Kwashieman to Aburi for the viewing. This gentleman did accordingly. The next message, I received from my client was “great, Eben. Paul has given me feedback and I will revert by selecting one of the options seen”. One could be assured of a 5% of the selling price as commission and even have that money on a budget. Few days later, I receive a call from this representative, by name Paul arguing with me over the price by adding another zero (making ten times the price). I corrected him that the price he is quoting is over price. After a followed up from my client, she said “thank you Eben for the assistance. Paul has promised getting us a better option in town”. You can predict how the story ends. Paul after knowing the areas went for another property nearby for the client. All because, I didn’t side with his imposed price which was ten times the price of the property.
People practicing as an agent may at times close only one sale commission earned deal in 3 months. Real estate deals can just misfire over little things. Even at the point of payment, a buyer may see a defect and suddenly have a change of mind. Sellers may also be difficult to negotiate with to accept buyers offer.
EBENEZER OPPONG ABOAGYE
MANAGING BROKER (SHELTER MART PROPERTY SERVICE LTD.)
VICE PRESIDENT- GHANA ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE BROKERS (GAREB)