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Guide to dealing with estate agents
Council for Estate Agencies releases official guide to safeguard consumers' interests
By: Daryl Chin
HOME buyers and sellers are given practical tips on how to deal with property agents in a new official guide.
The online document highlights some of the rules that real estate sales staff are meant to follow to help to safeguard consumers' interests. These include making sure they are not representing both the buyer and seller in the same property deal.
The guide was released yesterday by the industry regulator, the Council for Estate Agencies, which was set up last year following a surge in complaints about rogue property agents.
Consumers have also been alerted to other banned practices, such as sales staff referring their clients to moneylenders.
But the responsibility does not lie solely with agents, said the watchdog's executive director, Mr Chionh Chye Khye. Consumers also have a role to play.
'Real estate agents and sales staff are required by law to act ethically and with integrity in the interest of their clients in property transactions,' he said. 'At the same time, the public needs to understand that responsible consumer behaviour matters in ensuring that transactions proceed smoothly.'
There have also been reports of consumers trying to wangle discounts by threatening to report agents to the watchdog.
The guide - titled Consumer Tips For Engaging A Real Estate Salesperson - contains a section spelling out the precautions consumers should take before they sign on the dotted line. These include going through the documents involved in the deal to make sure they understand them.
Since Jan 1, all property agents have had to register with the Council for Estate Agencies. The guide is available on its website, www.cea.gov.sg
Financial analyst Richard Kong, 29, said it will make essential reading for anyone looking for a home.
Consumers can also check the public register for agents' details, such as their licence number and whether any disciplinary action has been taken against them.
Complaints can be made by e-mail or over the phone. The watchdog has received about 1,400 since it was set up, with poor service and misleading information among the most common.