Learn the “NOs” for property agents

Do you know that there are some strict no-nos that your property agent should not do when he represents you in your property transaction

#1: Agents cannot dual represent

If you are buying a property, your agent should not represent the seller at the same time. Imagine, you hope to pay the lowest possible price while the seller wants the highest possible price. Whose interests should the agent safeguard?

Similarly, if you are paying your agent a commission to help sell or rent a property, it is an offence for him to collect the commission from the buyer or tenant in the same transaction. If he does so, it will be considered as dual representation under the Estate Agent Act.

However, your agent can help the other party with the paperwork as long as he has obtained your consent and it is clear to all parties that he is not acting for the other party. Similarly, he cannot collect a fee from the other party.

#2: Agents should not advertise without your consent

You intend to sell your home and you post an advertisement online. Soon after, you discover an online advertisement on your property quoting a lower asking price.

An agent whom you did not know had posted the advertisement on your property without your consent, and had gotten the price wrong!

Agents must seek consent from property owners before advertising their property. They are also not allowed to copy an advertisement and claim it as their own.

Agents should also:

  • Ensure that the information on the advertisement, such as floor area, is accurate. If the advertisement shows a photograph of the property, the photograph must not be altered or enhanced in any way;
  • Not advertise a property price or any other terms that are different from those that you instructed;
  • Not use words or phrases that are against your best interest such as “already co-broke”, “no co-broke”, “no agents”, “buyers pay commission” in the advertisement as these phrases will limit the pool of potential interested parties; and
  • Clear the advertisements with their property agencies before publication

#3: Agents should not handle money relating to certain types of transactions

When it comes to property transactions, the money involved could vary from a few hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.

It is best to handle the money yourself rather than ask your agent to pass money to the payee for you. In fact, it is illegal for agents to handle certain money related to property transactions.

This applies to property agents who are representing their clients to buy or sell properties situated in Singapore, and leasing of HDB properties.

Check the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) website for more information on the money property agents can handle. Also, remember to pay the payee directly using verifiable modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers.

#4: Agents should not refer you to a moneylender

If you’re in a bit of a tight spot for funds, do not ask your agent to refer you to a moneylender for some quick cash. He is not supposed to!

Under the Estate Agents Act, property agencies and agents are not allowed to refer a client to any moneylender, licensed or otherwise, or receive any commission or other benefit from any moneylender relating to moneylending transactions.

The agent is also not supposed to:

  • divulge your personal data to unauthorised parties, including moneylenders;
  • accept any referral from moneylenders to sell debtors’ properties; and
  • abet unlicensed moneylenders in their criminal activities.

If you discover any property agencies or agents who work in collusion with a moneylender, do report them to CEA.

#5: Agents should not hide any conflict of interest

If you are buying a property, and your agent is related to the seller in any way, he should declare this conflict of interest to you. It is against CEA’s regulations for the agent not to disclose their relationship.

Your agent should also declare all external sources of income or referral fees that he receives, for example, referral fees for recommending you to a certain bank for mortgage loans.

For tips on what to do when engaging a property agent, visit www.cea.gov.sg/happyconsumer.

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