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

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

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

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

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

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
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),
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

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.