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Real Estate Board to launch training institute

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2016 | 2:00 AMTameka Gordon

The Real Estate Board of Jamaica (REBJ) is to unveil a training institute by March in a bid to meet industry demands for certification and keep pace with the legislative changes in the sector.

The Real Estate Training Institute (RETI) will be sited at what was the agency's previous Surbiton Road home, for which retrofitting has already been done, said Chief Executive Officer Sandra Watson.

"In developing our corporate plan, part of what we did was survey our industry, and what came out was (that) we needed to look back at the training that was offered to ensure that it is relevant and adapting to what is new in the market," Watson said. "We need continuous training to ensure that we are on top of our game."

The REBJ has obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act to police compliance by the real estate sector. And, last year, the agency was named regulator of the still-evolving timeshare market, with the passage of the Timeshare Vacations Act last November.

"We will have to train our industry to market this new product that they are totally unfamiliar with because it is marketed in a slightly different way than other real-estate products," said Watson.

Industry players previously received their training through the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech).

"The board designed the course, but that design was over some 20 years ago. It was hosted at UTech because we didn't have the facility," she said.

The new institute will admit approximately 15-20 persons in its inaugural course, a six-month programme for real-estate dealers.

"Right now, we are rolling out the pre-licensing courses. If you have never got a licence before, if you are a dealer or salesman, you want to add project management to your licence, or you have been out of the industry for a while and you want a refresher course, this is what you would do," Watson said.

MANDATORYREFRESHER PROGRAMME

Outside of the refresher courses, a continuing-education programme will require industry players to do a mandatory refresher every two years.

"Statute always required us to do it, but the REBJ just never got around to getting the continuous education going. There will be mandatory courses and optional courses. In all, they must add up to the number of hours that are required," said Watson.

The board will set up a committee tasked with overseeing the institute, headed by a dean, the CEO said. And RETI will have at least 12 instructors pulled from the real-estate sector.

The REBJ moved its offices to Trafalgar Road in August 2014, but kept the lease on the Surbiton Road complex as the future home of the institute.

At over 4,000 square feet, RETI will have at least three training rooms, offices and a lunch area, Watson said, adding that the training rooms were now ready.

"We are finished putting up the physical infrastructure. The first course is to be held in March. We are now pulling applications," she said.

The course content will also be pulled from industry stakeholders, she said, noting ongoing discussions with the developers and realtors associations.

The RETI will be launched by the end of February.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com