Estate Agents Authorization in Hong Kong

As the majority of property transactions are handled by estate agents, their professional standard and integrity is of great public concern.

About EAA

The Estate Agents Authority (EAA) is a statutory body, established in November 1997 under the Estate Agents Ordinance (EAO). Its principal functions are to regulate the practice of estate agency in Hong Kong, promote integrity and competence within the industry, and facilitate training for estate agency practitioners to enhance their standards and status.

The EAA organises qualifying examinations, issues licences to individuals and companies, handles complaints against licensees, conducts compliance inspections and metes 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.

There are two types of licences:

  • Estate agent’s licence; and
  • Salesperson’s licence.

Estate agent’s licence

The holder of an estate agent’s licence may carry on estate agency work as an estate agent or act as a salesperson for another estate agent.

Whether an estate agency business is in the form of a sole proprietorship or a partnership or is operated by a company, the estate agent is required to apply for a statement of particulars of business for each place of business under each business name. The statement must be displayed at a conspicuous position at the relevant place of business.

For a partnership business, at least one partner must hold a valid estate agent’s licence. Partners who are not engaged in the partnership business as an estate agent are not required to obtain a licence provided that he is not an “unfit person”. For details about the exemption or the meaning of an “unfit person”, please click here.

Each estate agency office shall be under the effective and separate control of a manager who must hold an estate agent’s licence (individual).

To be granted an estate agent’s licence (company), an applicant must:

  • be a company;
  • have at least one director holding a valid estate agent’s licence;
  • have a licensed estate agent in effective control of the company’s business as an estate agent;
  • have directors who are all considered fit and proper persons;
  • be considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Salesperson’s licence

A licensed salesperson may only perform estate agency work as a salesperson of a licensed estate agent.

To be granted a salesperson’s licence or an estate agent’s licence (individual), an applicant must:

  • have attained the age of 18 years at the date of application;
  • have completed a an educational level of Form 5 of secondary education or its equivalent*;
  • have passed the relevant qualifying examination in the 12 months immediately prior to the application*; and
  • be considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
  • * Certain former licensees may be exempted from the education and qualifying examination requirements; click here for more details.

Search of licensee listing

In EAA website, under the tab “Licensing” and then “License List”, or simple click here.

Using our company Bona Fides Consultancy Limited as an example, it returns the result as follows:Bona Fides is a registered licensee of Estate Agents Authority in Hong Kong

The license number on the first row is sticking to a company. i.e. C-035723 is the license number of BONA FIDES CONSULTANCY LIMITED, and the license is valid for 1 year, annual renewal is needed.

Licence expiry and renewal

A licence expires on the date specified in the licence. The expiry date may also be ascertained from the Register and the Licence List. In addition to expiry, a licence may cease to be valid if it is suspended or revoked. Practising estate agency work without a licence is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum penalty of 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of $500,000.

To renew a licence, a licensee must make an application no earlier than 3 months and no later than 1 month prior to the expiration of the licence. For example, if a licence expires on 31 December, then the application must be made in the period from 1 October to 30 November (both dates inclusive) of the same year. Application forms may be downloaded from this website or obtained from the EAA office. As application forms may be revised from time to time, only the latest version of the forms should be used or else extra processing time may be required.

Renewal applications made before the period will be rejected. Those who make a renewal application after the period may not be able to have their licence renewed promptly in which case they must suspend doing estate agency work after the expiry of their licences until and unless a new licence is granted or else they may commit a criminal offence.

Those who have provided an e-mail address will be kept informed of the progress of the application. An e-mail will be sent to the applicant:

  • after the application is received;
  • after the application is approved;
  • after the licence has been sent to the applicant or when the licence is ready for pick-up (depending on the choice which the applicant indicates in the application form).

Completed application forms, together with the relevant fee, may be submitted by mail or by hand to the EAA. There is no on-line renewal for the time being. The EAA pledges to process a renewal application within 20 working days after the day the application is received. Click here to know more about the EAA’s performance pledges. Licensees whose licences are attached with conditions should renew their licences promptly as it may take longer to process such applications.

Once a licence has expired, the former licensee may re-apply for the grant of a licence. He may even be exempted from certain licensing requirements.