Property Agent / REA: A Beginner's Guide

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A property enthusiast’s info kit

The aim of this article is to provide insight to those interested in becoming an accomplished Property Agent or Real Estate Agent in Malaysia. The real estate profession is one of the most promising careers as it can potentially bring high earnings, while allowing job and time flexibility. 

Whether you are a student giving serious thought about breaking into real estate marketing, a working professional considering a career change, or a retiree looking to try something entirely different, this blog is your comprehensive guide on what is required to become a Real Estate Agent. Here is an outline of what we will cover:

  • the abbreviations (i.e short form of the terms)
  • the minimum criteria
  • the exams
  • the attachment for practical training
  • the quicker alternative

Stay to the end for a bonus on the special characteristics that will make you stand out as a stellar property agent!

Getting familiar with terminology

Short forms will be used throughout for easier identification. Among the most commonly used terms in property business are:

REA (Real Estate Agent)

The responsibility of an REA is to act as a go-between for the owner and the buyer, assisting with their negotiations and other duties in the sale or rental of property or land till the completion of the deal.

REN (Real Estate Negotiator)

The role is a preliminary stepping stone towards qualifying as a property agent. Please be aware that RENs cannot work independently. They must be employed and supervised by REAs or a registered property agency.

PEA (Probationary Estate Agent)

Before becoming a full fledged REA, one has to undergo probation as a PEA, complete a two-year post-practical training with a registered real estate agent and sit for a final competence exam at the end.

LPPEH (Lembaga Penilai, Pentaksir dan Ejen Harta Tanah) or BOVAEA (Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers)

This is the government’s arm that regulates and oversees all valuers, appraisers, REAs and property managers in Malaysia. All REAs must be registered with LPPEH before they can practice or set-up a company.

TPC (Test of Professional Competence)

This is LPPEH’s means of ensuring that only those who are competent as REAs are allowed to register and begin their work. This is also the final step. Once you have passed the TPC, you are well on the way to a challenging yet rewarding career as an REA.

The minimum qualifications needed to start your REA journey

Property Agent

  • Must be a Malaysian (with MyKad) or a permanent resident (PR) in Malaysia.
  • Be at least 17 years old (SPM level).
  • A SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) or MCE (form 5 equivalent) certificate demonstrating 5 total passes (i.e., D or E) and at least 3 credits (i.e., C). One of the credits must be in either Mathematics, Science, Commerce or Accounting. One of the passes must be in Bahasa Malaysia.
  • If you do not have an SPM / MCE certificate, a higher qualification recognised by Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) and / or the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) may be considered.
  • For university and college graduates, here is the list of recognized degrees from LPPEH’s website. This will give you certain exemptions compared to those who meet the minimum criteria.

Certification is helpful, but is it necessary? Scams from people posing as property agent are real. They even claimed that they are from registered agency or real estate brokers. Many fraud cases are reported from illegal transactions. To safeguard the buyer and seller, the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 cites penalties for various offenses which are punishable by fines up to RM300K or a jail term of 3 years, or both.

The exams

Degree holders can be exempted on a subject to subject basis.

The property agent examinations are conducted by LPPEH. These are held annually, typically in June or July.

Application for registration is open from 2 January to 2 May each year. For more information and to obtain the forms, please visit LPPEH. The fees are charged at RM50 per subject, with a processing fee of RM50.

The current exam structure contains 11 subjects. They are as follows:

  1. Principles of Accounting
  2. Introduction to Law 
  3. Principles of Economic
  4. Property Taxation
  5. Principle and Practice of Marketing
  6. Land Economics
  7. Professional Practice
  8. Principle of Property Investment and Valuation
  9. Laws relating to property
  10. Real Estate Agency Practice
  11. Building Technology and Maintenance

As a side note, you don’t have to take all the subjects at once. You can opt to take the subjects separately (eg, if you are studying and working at the same time) but all in all, the whole exam must be completed within 5 years.

Once you have passed, it’s on to the next step – the practical training and perfecting your skills.

Next stop – your practical training as a PEA

Once you have your real estate agent’s exam certificate, it’s time to:

  • Register as a Probationary Estate Agent (PEA) with LPPEH. Once LPPEH is satisfied that all application requirements are met, they will then register you as a PEA, give you a red tag (similar to REN’s) and advise you on the commencement date of practical training.
  • Then, look for full-time employment with a legitimate real estate agency
  • Undergo full-time practical training for 1-2 years.

During your practical stint as a PEA, you will need to keep a detailed log of all your tasks and experience in the agency. This is your work diary. It is imperative to keep a detailed account of the various jobs you are carrying out, i.e. sales, leases, searches, types of listings, meetings, reports and closed deals. All this accumulates as your work experience and is required to be submitted to LPPEH for evaluation in the final stage, i.e the Test of Professional Competence (TPC).

This is also a good time to purchase the “Rules and Guidelines for the Test of Professional Competence for Estate Agency Practice” from LPPEH. The instruction manual costs RM10 and if you’d like it posted to you, add on the postage charges.

This bright yellow book holds a wealth of information about everything you need to prepare for the TPC. These include instructions pertaining to your work diary, other required records, the areas you should cover during your training, how to submit your work and the fees for TPC. Keep this book close at hand and refer to it frequently during your preparation for the TPC.

The quicker alternative – starting as a Real Estate Negotiator (REN)

The waiting period between registering to be a Probationary Estate Agent (PEA) may take longer than expected as confirmation is not fixed to any particular duration. Applying to be a REN is a faster option. It’s as simple as this:

  • Be above the age of 18 years with Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) qualification or above.
  • Enroll in and pass the Negotiator Certification Course (NCC). This is a 2-day course where the basics of estate agency as well as the related laws, acts and standards pertaining to the industry are taught. At the end of the course, you will receive a certificate of attendance.
  • Seek full-time employment with a registered property agency or be attached to a REA. From LPPEH, your agency or REA will apply for the REN tag on your behalf. The following documents are required:

    1. Letter of employment from the agency or registered REN.
    2. A copy of your MyKad (IC) or work permit if you are a Malaysian PR.
    3. Copy of a passport-sized photo.
    4. A completed LPPEH form.

Note to also inform LPPEH that you have submitted and are awaiting approval to be a PEA but have started as a REN.

Once you get your REN tag, you can start listing properties and begin earning while waiting for PEA approval.

It is easy to become a REN. Many young people have opted for this route as it circumvents the arduous study, exams and training required to become a qualified property agent. 

However, since this is a shortcut, RENs are not allowed to represent themselves. Nor can they open their own agency. RENs must always be linked to a registered real estate firm to undertake work within the industry. Your sweat, tears and efforts investing towards becoming a licensed real estate agent will give you independence of practice, starting your own agency and the ability to employ your own RENs in the future!

Test of Professional Competence (TPC)

Following the 1 or 2 years of practical training, you are eligible to take LPPEH’s Test of Professional Competence (TPC).

If you had been diligently referring to the “Rules and Guidelines for the Test of Professional Competence for Estate Agency Practice”, your work diary and record of experience would have been developed according to the required formats. Now, it is time to submit these to LPPEH:

  • Your work diary.
  • Record of experience certified by your Supervisor.
  • 2 reports / essays on practical tasks approved by your Supervisor.
  • Certified copies of your EPF and Income Tax BE forms for the last 2 years (as proof of your attachment and training).
  • The TPC assessment fees are RM50 for registration and RM200 for the full assessment.

Submission must be made either in person or via post (i.e, courier or pos laju).

All that is needed now is to wait to be contacted for the Professional Interview. This is the final challenge – your chance to demonstrate what you have learned and how fluently you can articulate this through speaking.

The interview may touch on the following areas:

  • Your practical training
  • Your 2 practical assignments
  • Estate agent’s act, rules and standards
  • Property law and taxation
  • REA’s principles and techniques
  • Current real estate landscape and issues

Once LPPEH has determined that your skills, experience and personality meet the requirements, you’ve made it as a certified real estate agent. Congratulations! 

Don’t be disheartened if you didn’t pass the test on your first attempt. Persevere. It is said, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.’ You can retake certain papers or sections again.

Wondering how much a REA can make?

Property Agent

In order to give you an idea of the earning potential in this industry (known as fees or commission), let’s review the commission structure for Real Estate Agents (REAs) in Malaysia:

  • Up to a maximum of 3% for the sale or purchase of land and buildings (this is all inclusive of e.g property swap, joint venture, etc).
  • 10% for chattels (i.e moveable property such as computers, paintings, antiques), plants and machinery.
  • Depending on the length of the tenancy, the commission may vary. The general consensus is that at least one month’s rent is required.

Bonus: Let your personality shine through!

As promised, here’s the bonus! These are 7 habits that will help you kickstart your career as a competent and successful property agent:

Be conscientious

Keep up with local market and industry trends. Understand property values, interest rates, and market fluctuations. After all, clients tend to rely on agents for advice and guidance so it pays to do your homework.

Sociable and sincere

Be friendly and approachable. A no-no is being overly pushy. Additionally, always treat people with respect, regardless of whether a deal was successful or not.

Body language and eye contact show that you are paying attention. Use the client’s name when talking to them. Remember general details about them (or their family) too. Your clients will feel respected, happy and appreciated. A good conversation with clients may help to increase your credibility and professional standing as property agent.

Be a good listener

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Moving home or investing in a new place will lead to many questions and concerns. Take the time to understand their needs, and then provide them with the most effective solution. They will be more likely to trust you if you do this.

Develop good time management skills

Simple things like planning ahead, prioritizing your tasks and juggling appointments without causing yourself to burn-out. Don’t rush opportunities or miss deadlines.

Passionate and PositiveProperty Agent

Find joy in what you do. When you are passionate about your job, you will radiate a positive attitude. Positivity is contagious. People are drawn to those who exude this aura.

Always be prepared

As with the scout’s motto, be prepared for any scenario when meeting clients or prospective clients. Every situation is different and as an property agent, you will need to creatively navigate through each one. Constantly build on, maintain and update your listings and contact list for that valuable future prospect.

Self Motivated

Property agent work on a commission basis. To accomplish your goals and to achieve your own success, you will have to be tenacious, independent and self-motivated. To put it bluntly, you will need to be thick skinned yet have the ability to be your own cheerleader when encountering setbacks or challenging clients.


As with most careers, the road to becoming a property agent requires hard work and sacrifice. With passion, perseverance plus a love for meeting and mingling, a career in real estate can be both lucrative and significantly rewarding.  If you think real estate is the right fit, own it.

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