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Call ro amend RESA pressed

SOME of the Philippines’ largest real estate groups on Wednesday joined the call of A Better Real Estate Philippines (ABREP) to amend the pre-automation Real Estate Service Act of 2009 (RESA), which has long kept the country from solving the alarming 6.75-million-unit housing backlog.

“In order to jumpstart real estate and make the industry more inclusive, ABREP and other stakeholders have united to amend RESA law. RESA is a pre-automation law that does not serve the purpose it was intended to. It was supposed to professionalize the industry, but instead, it’s stopping the industry from progressing. Because of the pandemic, many of us in the profession have turned to the internet in order to sell, but because RESA was crafted in the pre-automation era, it was not designed to accommodate digital technology,” ABREP President Anthony Leuterio said in a virtual press conference.

ABREP is a movement that seeks to promote inclusivity and the use of technology in the industry. Joining the movement in their call to amend RESA are the Chamber of Real Estate Builders Associations (CREBA), the National Real Estate Association (NREA), the Real Estate Brokers Association of the Philippines (REBAP), the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP), the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), and other real estate veterans.

“We are not alone in our call to amend RESA. We have all united to make RESA a better law for Filipinos. During our last conference, we were joined by some of the biggest groups. Now, let us move forward,” Leuterio said, adding that ABREP has reached out to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) regarding their proposed amendments and that they are awaiting further feedback.

‘Not just for a select few’

His statement was echoed by REBAP National Board Edwin Calamba, stating that RESA, being created during the pre-automation era, is “not a perfect law; hence, it is subject to change.”

“We as an association, should remain receptive to changes in regulations. I believe ABREP is doing their best to change the RESA through legal means. Our group is supporting ABREP in amending the RESA, which is intended not just for a select few, but for the betterment of the whole industry,” Calamba emphasized.

Havitas Development Corporation Chairman and Co-Founder Andy Mañalac then called for the cooperation of other stakeholders to unite with ABREP in making the industry more inclusive through the proposed changes in RESA. “Each organization has their respective position in the provisions of RESA law. The only way our lawmakers can take a look into this issue, all stakeholders should unite to address the issue. My appeal for everyone is to unite and submit their own positions so that these can be deliberated in a proper forum and then come up with a better RESA,” Mañalac said during the conference.

Renowned real estate developer, consultant, and TV host RJ Ledesma cited the hindrances the current RESA law poses to the country’s 6.75-million-unit housing backlog. “The main problem we are facing in the country’s real estate sector is the housing backlog. There are many areas that are underserved because there is no broker present. If you look abroad, many OFWs want to invest in ‘first home’ properties but they do not have access to credible information.”

Ledsma emphasized, “This is why RESA should recognize the benefits of internet technology to better serve the industry There are many things about RESA that can be amended. We are not saying to take out the law but we are saying: we should make it better. The same way Uber emerged to disrupt the whole taxi industry, or Airbnb disrupting the hotel industry. What we want is to make RESA a better law for all Filipinos.”

CREBA National President Noel Cariño during last week’s press conference slammed Section 32 of RESA Law or RA 9646, which states that partnerships and corporations are required to have at least one licensed real estate broker for every 20 accredited salespersons. “We are saying technology will allow you to reach as many people as you can. But how can we ensure optimal real estate marketing with that [1:20] provision? How can we challenge it? We scrap it,” Cariño said.

His remarks were echoed by NREA’s immediate past president Benny Cabrieto Jr., who said: “We cannot sell so many real estate units if we do not have enough agents, which is restricted by this 1-is-to-20 rule. The law provides that only those who are graduates of BSREM (Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Management) can apply to become a licensed broker.” Of the 200 BSREM graduates last year, only 100 passed the licensure exam and only about half of those who passed are actually practicing real estate, Leuterio said in the conference.

Divina Law Senior Partner Atty. Estrella Elamparo said ABREP, along with the other industry groups, are targeting to submit their position paper to Congress by the end of the year and expected to raise it before Congress in January next year. “Hopefully, more people will rally behind this amendment as more people realize the flaws in the existing law. We all should stand united and raise it before Congress.”

“This movement is meant to make the industry better for all. The law needs to be amended, not abolished. What we need now is unity, to stand together and make all voices heard so that any change made is inclusive. This is why we call upon both our fellow industry practitioners and those in the government who align with our beliefs to help make this law a better law for the Philippines,” Leuterio said.