The Association of Real Estate Agents, AREA, was officially launched in 1990. This was finally accomplished after more than 10 years and numerous unsuccessful attempts to create an Association of Agents who were working on a full time basis within the Real Estate Industry. As far back as the mid- to late-1950’s, a number of attempts were made to establish some sort of co-operation between people actively involved in the selling of Real Estate, and acting as sales agents for owners of property. Back then, there were probably not more than five Real Estate Agents in the Port of Spain are actively involved in the real estate business, even fewer in San Fernando, and numerous “house agents” scattered around the country, who were assisting property owners to either sell, rent or manage their property.
Well-intentioned as they all were at that time, nothing ever seemed to take hold. In those days there were not as many properties for sale on the open market as is the case today. It was not a common to tradition move and upgrade homes. When you bought your home back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, inevitably you were probably set for life in that home. This is where the family grew up, went to school and eventually only left the roost to get married.
As the late sixties rolled in, and the windfalls of the oil boom (known as the oil crisis in oil-importing countries) started to filter in through the various communities, financial security improved in nearly all areas of the country, and the demand for housing increased. One inevitably saw a number of people jumping into the Real Estate business and acting as “Agents.” It was inevitable that among those that got into the business, there were going to be some who saw it as an opportunity to capitalize on the uninformed and in many cases, the majority of those who were badly hurt were the least able to afford it. Until the formation of AREA, there were no rules by which a Real Estate Agent was governed. Even the numerous well-intentioned and ethical agents were all playing by different rules. There were virtually no two agents who practiced in the same manner.
It was the context of this situation and the numerous complaints from the general public that it was felt that some sort of structural organization and direction was needed. Even today, anyone wishing to get into business of virtually any sort in Trinidad and Tobago can do so without the need for a license, regardless of whether they were qualified to handle that business or not. Additionally, with the number of agents growing, it was felt that if real estate agents themselves did not make an attempt to improve the situation, chaos was inevitable. In response to this, the Association met and an agenda was established. Some of the priorities that were listed were:
- Standardise contractual forms, documents and agreements.
- Set up a system for sharing information among Real Estate Agents.
- Establish Educational programmes.
- Establish legislative models which could be used to regulate the local industry.
When AREA was officially launched in 1990, the membership comprised 6 to 8 of the most active Real Estate Companies covering about 25 sales people. Today, there are more than 51 brokers, 30 sales associates and 18 corporate members. The multiple listing service includes hundreds of residential and commercial properties.