4 Aug 2012, 11.16PM
Property agents are not allowed to represent both the buyers and sellers. However, many property agents get around this rule by insisting the buyer use a friend/family member of theirs as their agent. This practice is rampant and results in higher earnings for agents and more expensive property.
We have been looking to buy a property recently and many agents ask us if we have an agent representing us. Why do they want to know? Talking to some friends who bought properties recently revealed that agents always introduce another agent to help you with the legal work. 1 even told me that they were kept out of the negotiation process when told they do not need any agent.
When I rented my current private property, I paid the landlord's agent because she told me it was expected. She only told me after the contract was signed and was "surprise" I did not know about this practice.
More can be done to check and prevent this malpractice. For a start, CEA should come up with a easily readable shortened list of things property agents should do and should not do, and advertise it in Straits Times classified ads. Advertising in websites such as PropertyGuru will also prove useful. Pay money to educate the public. When the public is educated, agents will not cheat.
To make it more effective, CEA can rope in HDB. When buyers and sellers meet in HDB, the HDB officer can give both parties a questionnaire, to ensure agents did not violate any of the rules. Make it mandatory to fill up the questionnaire.