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Real estate ITM identifies property transactions services, facilities management for transformation

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Consultants will also be encouraged to design and construct buildings with maintenance in mind, to minimise the need for expensive retrofitting and labour-intensive maintenance in the future.

IN a bid to future-proof the real estate sector, the government is rolling out a series of initiatives focused on facilities management (FM) and property transaction services.

The plans are aimed at helping companies in these areas embrace innovation and technology, while raising the professionalism and skills of their workforce.

This marks the launch of the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM), the third ITM to be launched under the built-environment cluster and culminated from over 50 engagement sessions with stakeholders over the past year.

Launching the ITM on Thursday, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said that while the ITM focuses on two sub-sectors, its plans and initiatives will impact other sub-sectors in the real estate value chain.

The government is looking at raising the adoption of Smart FM solutions and practices islandwide to boost productivity, spur research and development of FM solutions, and nurture innovative enterprises.

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This means convincing more landlords to invest in smarter and more efficient maintenance systems, even if some retrofitting is required on their part, Mr Lee said.

"We can plan for FM systems to work seamlessly not just within a single building, but across a group of inter-connected buildings," Mr Lee said. "This may be at the district-level or for buildings of the same 'use class' or within the same family like JTC."

He stressed that smarter FM will streamline processes, reduce abortive work, reap cost savings over time, and ultimately lead to greater productivity. But a building's maintenance cannot be an afterthought.

Consultants will also be encouraged to design and construct buildings with maintenance in mind, to minimise the need for expensive retrofitting and labour-intensive maintenance in the future.

One of the immediate task of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) - which is coordinating the FM sector's development with other relevant agencies - is to form a tripartite FM implementation committee (FMIC) to advice on the ITM implementation.

In building up FM talent, the BCA said that it will review the current curriculum taught in institutes of higher learning and the continuing education and training framework. It will also explore working with the FM associations to implement an industry accreditation scheme.

The property transactions services sector too must embrace technology to become more user-friendly and efficient, Mr Lee said.

To that end, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) is taking the charge in moving the property transactions services sector towards seamless and more efficient end-to-end transactions for consumers.

The government has already taken the first step with the streamlining of the HDB resale transaction process in January.

Taking the momentum further, the CEA said that it is leading a new workgroup that is working on the sharing of government's data with the industry.

This will enable firms to automate processes, hence cutting down time on due diligence checks and freeing agents to do higher-value work. The seamless sharing of data from the HDB, Singapore Land Authority and the Ministry of Manpower will be progressively rolled out this year.

The workgroup will also develop digitalised contract templates and checklists for consumers and property agents to use by early-2020s.

Formed last month, the workgroup consists of all key government agencies involved in the property transaction process, as well as industry representatives.

Some private-sector players are already using technology to offer more convenient ways of transacting properties. For instance, JTC has rolled out a paperless tenancy renewal initiative for customers to obtain renewal offers immediately after making a simple declaration. Local developer Keppel Land has moved into virtual reality technology to showcase different configurations and units of its projects.

To help upskill property brokers, the CEA will work with the industry to publish property transactions closed by agents.

This will be implemented in two phases, starting with HDB transactions from end-2018 and private residential transactions from end-2019.

In the long term, the CEA plans to work with the industry to collect and publish consumer ratings of agents to improve their accountability to clients. Property agencies such as OrangeTee & Tie have already rolled out such a rating service.

The CEA is also revamping its continuing professional development (CPD) framework by end-2018, to ensure that agents are kept abreast of the latest changes in policies and procedures.

Mr Lee said that the BCA will be setting up the built-environment transformation office (BETO) this year, with an initial focus on implementing the construction ITM, and improving the coordination of transformation plans across the built-environment cluster in the longer term.

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