May 28, 2010
Not many rogue agents, replies real estate body
I COMMEND Ms Tan Hui Yee ('Getting smart against rogue housing agents'; Wednesday) for highlighting how savvy consumers can protect themselves from falling prey to rogue agents.
But rogue agents are not aplenty. Most consumers have had satisfactory experiences with the agents in their transactions. The Public Perception and Expectations of Real Estate Agents survey carried out by Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year indicated that 64.6 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their estate agents and 67.3 per cent rated them in the range of 'satisfactory' to 'excellent' for fiduciary dealings, which is meant to reflect the ethical relationship between parties.
The case of the Yuens involving gross misconduct of agents last year was a rarity.
Contrary to Ms Tan's suggestion that consumers were sceptical or unfamiliar with real estate bodies such as the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA), we had 329 inquiries, feedback and complaints last year, of which 40 per cent were complaints requiring our intervention, and these included disputes over commission.
The number of complaints alone was thrice more than what our agency handled in 2008. The bulk of the complaints was expeditiously resolved. SAEA also successfully helped settle all cases which required mediation. So, we do not believe we are ineffectual.
Finally, Ms Tan stated that 'not every agent who misleads a client into an unsavoury deal will be disciplined; some could merely be made to forgo part of their commission in a mediated settlement'.
There is another perspective to this, that is, if indeed the estate agent is clearly proven to have misled his client resulting in financial loss or even hardship, it is likely that he will face disciplinary inquiry in addition to the possibility of civil suit. The estate agency to which he is registered with may also face censure.
Dr Tan Tee Khoon
Chief Executive Officer
Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang