Yangon real estate bodies take aim at unlicensed foreign firms

Illegal foreign-run real estate agencies are “snatching” work from licensed agencies, real estate professionals are complaining. They say the influx of foreign investors and companies and the boom in the construction of luxury homes have been accompanied by an upsurge in activity by unlicensed foreign estate agents.

And now they want to put them out of business.

Sai Khun Naung, chair of the Yangon Region Real Estate Entrepreneurs’ Association, told The Myanmar Times on June 17 that the association would gather information on these activities and complain to the regional and Union authorities.

“The law does not allow them to come here and do direct investment business. If they want to invest in the service sector, they need to form a joint venture with the approval of the Myanmar Investment Commission. But some companies are operating here without a licence and without approval. Local licensed real estate agencies are hurting. So we will gather data on these companies and make our complaint,” he said.

Local real estate agencies are facing losses as the number of foreign companies operating illegally is apparently growing, while some foreigners are doing business in the real estate sector in joint ventures with local agencies, he added.

About two months ago, work began on compiling a list of such agencies in Yangon, and indications are that the number could run into the hundreds, said Sai Khun Naung.

“We’ve been compiling a list for more than two months. We can say there are more than 100 such unofficial agencies being run by foreigners. If they persist in operating, we will report them to the relevant authorities at each level. As they are providing service to their citizens without a permit, they are snatching our rights. The government has placed restrictions on their investing in the real estate service sector,” he added.

Foreigners doing business in real estate typically consult local agents about rental fees and apartment prices on the pretext that they are genuine customers. In fact, they then help other foreign companies find rentals.

Though the Myanmar Investment Commission has invited complaints about such practices, the firms can be hard to track down because they deal mainly with their own compatriots.

“The investment commission said we should complain if we come across such unofficial businesses. The problem is, they operate mainly with their own connections. Sometimes foreigners with joint ventures with local firms also act as unofficial agents. We are developing plans to deal with this,” said U Than Oo, vice chair of the Myanmar Real Estate Services Association, on June 17.

There are 35 official foreign real estate agencies in Myanmar as of May 2016. Complaints about illegal activities may be made to the Myanmar Investment Commission.


Source: Myanmar Times



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