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Singapore’s Real Estate ITM aims to transform Facilities Management and property transactions

Singapore’s Real Estate ITM aims to transform Facilities Management and property transactions

The Singapore Government launched its Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM [1]) on February 8. This is the third ITM under the Built Environment (BE) cluster to be launched, following the recent launches of the Construction and Environmental Services ITM.

Like the other ITMs, the Real Estate ITM was developed through a collaborative effort between the industry, union, academia, and the Government. Stakeholders from across the entire real estate value chain, including property agencies, conveyancing lawyers, valuation firms, facility managers, property developers and property technology firms were involved and over 50 engagement sessions with stakeholders were conducted over the past year.

It recognises the challenges being faced by the real estate industry such technological disruption for existing business models and traditional jobs, slowing manpower growth and rising consumers’ expectations for convenient, transparent and reliable services. Thus, the ITM seeks to transform the real estate industry so it can continue to grow and provide good jobs for Singaporeans.

The Real Estate ITM has two broad thrusts: (a) Embrace innovation and leverage technology; (b) Strengthen professionalism and upskill workforce.

The ITM initiatives will focus on transforming the Facilities Management (FM) and property transaction services sectors as these two sectors have been identified as holding the greatest promise for transformation. However, the ITM initiatives, when implemented, would also impact and require the close partnerships of the other stakeholders in the real estate industry.

BCA and the Council for Estate Agencies(CEA) will continue to work closely with the industry as the details of the Real Estate ITM initiatives are finalised and progressively rolled out.

Facilities Management

Transforming Faciltiies Management/ Credit: BCA, CEA, MND

Buildings have to be well maintained to ensure optimal building performance and sustainability.

Ease of maintenance will become increasingly important as Singapore ages, and as new buildings and infrastructure continue to be built. Current procurement practices focus more on reducing cost than enhancing service delivery. The ITM notes that this gives little incentive for the FM sector to innovate and invest in Smart FM solutions such as real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and automation that improves a building’s operational efficiency.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has therefore been tasked with coordinating the development of the FM sector with other relevant agencies. The BCA will form a tripartite (collaboration among unions, employers and the government) FM Implementation Committee (FMIC) to provide advice and assist in formulating the implementation details of the ITM plans for the FM sector.

The tripartite FMIC will look into increasing adoption of Smart FM solutions and practices island-wide, to improve productivity. This will in turn is expected to help drive the research and development of FM solutions, and nurture innovative enterprises.

In addition, consultants will be encouraged to design and construct buildings with FM in mind right from the planning and design stage. Maintainability will also be systematically considered in the building design, so as to minimise the need for expensive retrofitting and labour-intensive maintenance.

In a related development, JTC Corporation (JTC)’s J-Ops Command Centre (J-Ops) was officially commissioned yesterday. J-Ops is one of the first integrated Command Centres set up for facilities management (FM) in Singapore. J-Ops presents an example of how FM systems can work seamlessly not just within a single building, but across a whole group of interconnected buildings within the same family. This can also be done for interconnected buildings at the district-level, or for buildings of the same “use class”.

Property Transaction Services

Transforming property transactions services/ Credit: BCA, CEA, MND

A first step has been taken to leverage technology for faster and more efficient property transaction services, with the launch of the HDB Resale Portal in January 2018.

The CEA is leading a new Digitalised Property Transactions Workgroup to move the industry towards seamless, end-to-end, efficient and secure transactions for consumers.

Formed in January 2018, the Workgroup consists of all key government agencies involved in the property transaction process, including Housing & Development Board (HDB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Ministry of Law (MinLaw), Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

It also includes industry representatives, including the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), Institute of Estate Agents Singapore (IEA), PropTech Association Singapore, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS), Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA), Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV), SGTech, and the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc).

One key initiative the Workgroup is working on is to make it easier for industry to access Government property-related data to enable firms to automate administrative processes such as time-consuming due diligence checks.

Examples of Government data include information such property ownership details which can be used to verify that the seller is the legal owner of the property, or whether a potential foreign tenant has a valid pass to work in Singapore. Firms can use this data to streamline and automate their internal process via digital platforms so that agents can focus on higher-value work. HDB, SLA and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will progressively enable seamless data sharing later this year.

To streamline property transaction processes, the Workgroup will also develop digitalised contract templates and checklists for use by consumers and property agents by early-2020s. The private sector can tap on the technology enablers and tools provided by the workgroup to innovate and provide end-to-end and seamless services to consumers.

Skill development

BCA will thus work with the institutes of higher learning (IHLs) and the FM associations to review and update the curriculum offered by IHLs, and also strengthen the continuing education and training (CET) framework to build up the FM talent pool.

BCA will also explore working with FM associations to implement an industry accreditation scheme, that will improve the professionalism of the industry and enhance the attractiveness of a career in FM. This will ensure that current and future FM practitioners will be equipped with more advanced and relevant FM capabilities and skillsets. On Property Transaction Services.

To strengthen professionalism, CEA will work with the industry to publish property transactions closed by agents. This initiative will be implemented in two phases – starting with HDB residential transactions from end-2018, and for private residential transactions from end-2019.

In the long term, CEA also plans to work with the industry to collect and publish consumer ratings of agents to improve their accountability to their clients.

In addition, CEA will also be revamping its Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework by end-2018, to ensure that agents upgrade themselves and keep abreast of the latest changes in policies and procedures relating to real estate transactions.

As part of the Real Estate ITM, CEA has also worked with NTUC LearningHub to introduce a SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace (SFDW) programme contextualised for workers in the real estate industry, to help real estate professionals to be future-ready.

[1] Roadmaps are being developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and deepen partnerships between the Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers. The ITMs are grouped into 6 broad cluster: Manufacturing, Built environment, Trade & connectivity, Essential Domestic Services, Modern services and Lifestyle.

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