Real estate

Property agents are often accused of reaping profits with minimal work. Steve Mercieca, a co-founder and CEO of Zanzi Homes & QuickLets, two leading local property sales and letting companies, has come out swinging, raising awareness on the practices often employed by clients to bypass agency fees, resulting in agents and agencies without compensation for services rendered.

“Sending your partner, friend, parents or colleague to go and see a property with an agent, then contacting the owner directly, is the exact same thing [as stealing]. It is not ‘clever’” he said in a strongly worded social media post.

“Offering an agent direct commission to go behind the company’s back is also stealing. Thankfully, our people have integrity and report this, and the ‘client/thief’, gets blacklisted.”

While it is not uncommon for people to complain about persistent real estate agents, Mr Mercieca has shone a spotlight on the various ways people try to bypass agency and company fees, calling out what he describes as “agent fraud”.

In Mr Mercieca’s view, this problem, while being perceived as ‘acceptable’ by certain segments of the public, has never been properly addressed on public platforms.

Broadly speaking, real estate agents, whether in the letting or property sale segments, are tasked with gathering client information, locating properties for sale/rent, promoting listed properties, visiting properties with clients, negotiating sales/rental prices and overseeing leasing activities.

“If you don’t want to pay for an estate agent’s services, no problem. Don’t use them. Just stop wasting our time and stealing from our hard-earned fees,” Mr Mercieca adds.

Up until this year, real estate agents, property brokers, branch managers and property consultants required no specific licensing to be engaged in the profession.

As of 1st January 2022, however, those working in the above professions are required to get a state license, following the attainment of a certificate in real estate, by studying the legal, financial, technical and communication issues related to property sales/letting and its marketing.

“Our organisation has 32 offices in Malta and two in Cyprus. We have 520 awesome people. We aren’t going to accept this anymore,” Mr Mercieca concludes.

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