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Brokers break away from CIREBA

| 30/03/2015 | 8 Comments

(CNS Business): The majority of realtors in Cayman are members of the not-for-profit industry organisation, the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA). However, many real estate company owners are speaking out and telling CNS Business it’s time break away from the organisation’s “stranglehold” and make a change. 

Paul Young, a seasoned broker and owner of Savills Cayman, said he has been an agent with leading developers throughout Grand Cayman for around 14 years. In 2002 he joined CIREBA while working for another real estate company and has seen first-hand what it takes to be a member of the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association.

“The biggest issue is how regulated CIREBA is and how inflexible it is,” Young explained. “There’s great benefits but the general consensus is, I would bet money, over 75% would be non-supporters. They don’t know another way because it’s been like that for so long.”

In 1987 CIREBA was started to provide a professional network and act as a source of information for the different real estate companies in the Cayman Islands. The organisation was created by a group of realtors who wanted to efficiently unify and organise the real estate market at a time when there were no set standards. As of Q2 of 2014, CIREBA is made up of 31 member companies and 161 sales agents. CIREBA’s member companies handle about 85% of the sales volume in the Cayman Islands.

However, when Young decided to lead Savills Cayman, one of the world’s leading real estate advisers, he said, “We wanted an initial go at it without them. We have taken a stance and I think it’s good for the real estate community and the island.”

Young explained it’s easier to not be a part of the group due to all the regulations it has on its members, especially when it comes to commission prices, going to trade shows and just doing things slightly differently.

“It was a bold step but it was time for a change. It makes it more flexible and sensible to not be a part of CIREBA,” Young said. “When we sell one of their listings they give us 40% of the commission versus 50% of the commission, the way it should be. We’re not going to fight them about it. I mean, hopefully one day it will change. When they bring us a buyer to one of our listings, we give them half, no questions. That’s the fair thing to do; it’s the right thing to do. It’s in the best interest of the vendor.”

CNS Business also spoke with another broker, who did not want to be identified, but decided to take the same route as Young.

“I have not ruled out applying to join CIREBA in the future, however at this time we elected not to do so as it allowed us much more flexibility in the service we can allow to our clients, especially when it came to setting commissions, which I feel are too high, and being able to negotiate a deal at the end to include cutting commissions to make it work for the clients,” the agent explained.

The anonymous real estate agent also feels the government needs to set legitimate standards throughout the real estate community.

“I also very much resent the fact that, despite a Grand Court ruling to the contrary, CIREBA continues to operate illegally in that they refuse to work with other companies on an equal 50/50% commission split but require you to sign an offensive agreement assuring them you will do your job to earn their illegal offering of 40%.  This is despite the fact we do not require CIREBA members or any other companies to sign such a thing and will always pay a fair and just 50%,” the agent explained.

Young predicts more companies may begin to break their ties with CIREBA if the government doesn’t set regulations.

“I think if government regulated the business then there will be an island test or you’ll have to be a certified agent, because there is no license here for agents unless you are with CIREBA and it’s a CIREBA based license not a real-estate license,” he told CNS Business.

To become a member of CIREBA, along with regular training courses, agents and brokers must pass multiple exams and follow the association’s code of business standards. Young admitted it is harder to get into CIREBA than out due to all the tests and examinations.

Another broker said, “I very much applaud CIREBA for its training and its code of conduct.  However its actual operation on a day-to-day basis is geared to serving its committee members and the big fish in the real estate market.  It doesn’t like competition and gives off the impression of it acting out when feeling threatened.  Like a petulant child.  It is self-serving in its current set up.”

Young explained the Cayman Islands is a small market, and at the end of the day realtors and brokers all have the same goal — to sell properties.

“Will things change in the future for us and our relationships with them? Maybe. But for now I think we’re finding our feet. We’ve launched a very exciting brand to the market and I think so far it’s working out,” he stated.

CNS Business tried reaching out to members of CIRBEA on several occasions to get their side of the story. After weeks no one replied before press time.


Category: Local Business, Real Estate

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If there is a non-CIREBA realtor on the island, that’s where I am going to take my business every time! CIREBA is nothing but an anti-competitive cartel designed to drive up commissions and line pockets. Don’t take my word for it – the Grand Court agrees. Get rid of CIREBA and services will improve and commissions will come down. This is a good first step.

  2. joy says:

    trying to keep the big boys club?

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Thanks CIREBA for the $100,000 donation to the Rotary / Hospice organized by Derek Haines. We look forward to receiving a donation from Savilles, one of the largest realtors in the world. At least CIREBA organize their members on money laundering laws and more. I have no idea what other realtors do on this sensitive subject.

  3. Anonymous says:

    crabs in a bucket….all realtors care about is their comission… better than used car salesmen…..

  4. Anonymous says:

    always a good time to buy!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What the article fails to mention is that Savills Cayman applied to join CIREBA and was subsequently refused membership. Seems like someone else is behaving like a petulant child. Give it a rest already.

    • Anonymous says:

      that is absolutely not true. Get your facts straight. Savills Cayman did NOT apply to CIREBA

  6. Anonymous says:

    Its about time the Government broke up the CIREBA cartel. Their commission rates are simply outrageous.

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