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Making the grade

Why BREA agents are among the best

Making the grade
Why BREA agents are among the best

When buying real estate it’s important to have a trusted professional guide you through every part of the process.

In The Bahamas, real estate agents are required to be members of the Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA). This affords house-hunters peace of mind, knowing that their realtor has been certified by an independent body that has been looking out for buyers for more than 50 years.

Formed in 1959, BREA was the brainchild of a group of leading real estate firms. The founding members wanted an organization that would represent their interests, uphold strict standards, police a code of ethics and give the sector a voice.

Today these goals are still very much at the forefront of the association’s mission. Those seeking accreditation must meet a high standard.

President Patty Birch explains: “The professionals in our business are just that, professionals. There is a saying in real estate: ‘the more you learn, the more you earn’. Our members are constantly learning about their field.

“It is a little scary buying property in a foreign country. People think ‘how do I do this, what do I have to do? You need a professional to guide you through that process and be on top of all the options.”

BREA oversees the training and practices of more than 600 professionals working in all sectors of the property market in The Bahamas. Members are required to undertake a stiff training process before gaining their licence.

Everyone seeking accreditation must undertake a three-month apprenticeship under a broker so they can learn the business first hand. Then there is an intense week-long course where students are taught the finer points of the real estate business. There’s an exam and 80 per cent is the passing grade.

Once the prospective realtor passes, she or he must fill out an application form which is then submitted to the BREA Board for approval. “It is very rigorous,” says Birch. “Real estate is a financial service so it is very regulated.”

To progress from a sales agent to a broker, applicants must show they have worked three consecutive years as a salesperson, have sold a minimum of $1.5 million worth of property in arms length transactions and completed seven additional courses covering everything from leasing and selling to the financial aspects of real estate.

BREA offers its members further education so they can develop their skills and/or specialize in a particular field such as appraisals. Some of the courses on offer are specifically tailored towards international business such as the Certified International Property Specialist designation, which is awarded to realtors who have experience with foreign buyers.

The Bahamian property market can be difficult and navigating it requires in-depth local knowledge, explains Birch. “Our taxes are different, our method of conveyancing is different and our laws are different. What gives Bahamian real estate agents the edge is that they know the system. It is that knowledge of the market that puts us on top.”

BREA has formed links with international bodies, making sure that standards in The Bahamas reflect those elsewhere in the world, ensuring that foreign buyers can receive the same quality of service they would get back home. The organization became a member of the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA) in June 2011 and works closely with its sister organization, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, based in Florida.

“We are an international member of the real estate community, “says Birch. “We keep up with trends, what is happening in the market, what are the legal issues and how they affect us.”

With the BREA monitoring the needs of buyers and the capabilities of sellers, The Bahamas has a highly trained and professional cadre of real estate agents who are ready, willing and able to help foreign buyers.



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