1.The regulation of estate agents in Hong Kong
The majority of property transactions, probably the most important lifetime investment decision for most people, are handled by estate agents in Hong Kong. In order to regulate the practice of estate agents in Hong Kong, the Estate Agents Authority (“EAA”) was established in 1997 under the Estate Agents Ordinance (“EAO”).

The EAA’s principal work includes organising qualifying examinations, issuing licences to individuals and companies, handling complaints against licensees, conducting compliance inspections and meting out disciplinary sanctions to practitioners who have breached the EAO. The EAA also organises activities for the professional development of the trade and promotion of consumer education.

Estate agents must comply with the EAO and its subsidiary legislation, including in particular the Estate Agents Practice (General Duties and Hong Kong Residential Properties) Regulation in respect of Hong Kong residential properties. They should also comply with the Code of Ethics and all the Practice Circulars issued by the EAA.

2.Duties of Estate Agents
  • Market the property
  • Arrange for inspection of the property
  • Provide property information
  • Conduct negotiation and submit all offers to clients
  • Assist clients in entering into an agreement for sale and purchase or a tenancy agreement
  • Explain the detailed terms of the agreement for sale and purchase or tenancy agreement to clients; advise clients to seek legal advice if they do not understand any part of it
3.Points to note when appointing estate agents
  • Appoint licensed estate agency practitioners, do not appoint any unlicensed persons
  • Sign an Estate Agency Agreement with the agent to state clearly the rights and responsibilities of the parties to protect each other’s interests
  • Ask the agent for a copy of all the relevant documents signed
  • Give precise and clear instructions to the agent (written instructions are preferred), especially asking prices, offers or counteroffers during negotiation
  • Obtain a receipt from the agent upon any money payment
4.Estate Agency Agreement
Key clauses of an estate agency agreement include:

  1. Validity period of the agreement
  2. List price
  3. Duties of the estate agent
  4. Commission payable as agreed between the agent and the client and when it is to be paid
  5. Whether the appointment is single agency (the agent represents only the owner/purchaser/tenant/landlord) or dual agency (the agent represents both the owner and the purchaser, or, the landlord and the tenant)
  6. In the case of dual agency, the amount of commission to be received from both parties
  7. Whether it is an exclusive agency

The Estate Agency Agreement for residential properties is a form prescribed under the Estate Agents Ordinance and there are standard formats:

5.How to check whether an estate agent is licensed
If you wish to check whether an estate agent is currently holding a valid licence, please access the online licence list at the EAA’s website: www.eaa.org.hk/en-us/licence-search
6.Ways to lodge a complaint against an estate agent
If you have reasons to believe that any licensed estate agent has not complied with the Estate Agents Ordinance you may lodge a complaint with us. On ways to lodge a complaint, please refer to our website: www.eaa.org.hk/en-us/Complaint/Complaint