SG New guidelines issued for property agents
Property Here - Monday, April 29, 2013
By Romesh Navaratnarajah:
The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has published a professional service manual (PSM) which specifies the responsibilities and service standards required of all property agents and salespersons.
“The PSM seeks to set clear standards and guidelines to ensure salespersons render their services competently, professionally and ethically, thus promoting open, fair and honest property transactions,” said Chan Mun Kit, Director (Regulatory Control) at CEA.
Under the new guidelines, agents are required to conduct due diligence checks. If they are acting on behalf of a landlord or seller, they must verify that the client is indeed the property’s owner. This also applies to salespersons acting on behalf of tenants or buyers. In such cases, they must confirm that the people their clients are dealing with are the actual owners of the property.
Agents must also be more careful when working for vulnerable clients who are unable or less likely to make informed decisions on property deals such as illiterates, persons under financial distress and those who have no means of sustenance or family support. In dealing with such cases, agents must not unethically influence them to sell, buy, let or rent out a property.
CEA has also tightened the practice of collecting blank cheques from property buyers. Specifically, agents are not allowed to collect such cheques unless there is a written request from the developer directed to the agent. If a cheque is issued, it must be crossed and the name of the payee should be a project account for residential properties or a developer for non-residential properties. It should also come with an authorisation letter which stipulates the buyer’s conditions.
Finally, an agent must ascertain the material facts and important information relevant to the properties with the sellers.