THE real estate business in the early 1950s was largely unorganized and the caveat emptor spirit of the time – “let the buyer beware” – prevailed. No government license laws existed to govern activities of real estate brokers and their salesmen.

Congress later enacted Republic Act 9646, “An Act Regulating the Practice of Real Estate in the Philippines, Creating for the Purpose a Professional Regulatory Board of Real Estate Service, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes.”

It took the government five decades to finally resolve the implementing rules and regulations urged then by the Philippine Association of Real Estate Board to establish trade ethics, standardization of real estate brokerage practices, commission charges, and servicing fees.

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In the early 1960s, the Cebu Realtors’ Board was organized on the concept that the exchange of real estate practice and business trends information among the individual real estate boards instilled the need for unity in the real estate business. As a trade organization, the Philippine Association of Realtors Board (Pareb) was patterned after the US National Association of Real Estate Boards, when it drafted and adopted in 1913 a comprehensive code of ethics which contributed greatly to the transition of real estate from an unorganized business to its current status of a profession.

The adoption of the association’s emblem and the coining in 1916 of the trademark term “realtor,” which is reserved for sole use by the association’s active members, followed. The success of these individual real estate boards soon attracted the attention of organizing other real estate organization.

The creation of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and the enactment of the condominium law during the Marcos rule eventually led toward the accomplishment of desirable social and economic ends to real estate development. Gone were the developers and fly-by-night operators whose road networks in the residential subdivisions are substandard, where road width is more of an alley and only open canal served as storm drainage.

One such environmentally-friendly Marcos decree was prohibiting the development of land with a slope over 60 percent and the area to be used for silviculture only. The purpose of the decree is to prevent soil erosion where the trees and shrubs hold the soil. Critics argue that HLURB should re-implement the 60 percent slope prohibition to prevent future flooding of the coastal areas.

The realtor’s preamble to the code of ethics set forth that, “under all is land, upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. The realtor is the instrumentality through which the land resources of the nation reach its widest distribution. He is a creator of homes, a builder of cities, a developer of industries and productive farms.”

For the record, let it be recognized that realtors have, for many decades, played an important role in the development of the industry in Cebu. It is because a realtor endeavors always to be informed regarding the law, proposed legislation, and other essential facts and public policies, further, the “realtor pledges himself to be fair to purchaser or tenant, as well as the owner whom he represents and whose interests he should protect and promote as he would his own; it is the realtor’s duty to advise the owner honestly and intelligently regarding its fair market value.”

It is the duty of every realtor to protect the public against fraud, misrepresentation, or unethical practices in connection with real estate transactions. Although most people think of real estate brokerage when the term real estate business is used, the greater part of real estate activity initiates in other areas of real estate specialization.

Many who are actively or inactively engaged in real estate are not in the brokerage branch of the business and are not negotiating real estate transactions for others and for a commission. They are investing in real estate or mortgage, buying and selling an interest in real estate on their own account, appraising real estate, constructing buildings, or working in a government agency that owns, manages, regulates, taxes, finances, or seeks to stimulate the economic use of real estate. The challenge addressed to the Cebu Realtors’ Board is to broaden and encourage real estate education especially to the unlicensed “colorum” realty salespersons.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2010.