IT IS stated on the website of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA) that an agent should not accept any commission from both vendor/seller and purchaser/buyer in the same transaction … (Section 2.2.1 on page 3 on website). It is also stated that the professional fee is 2 per cent from the seller and 1 per cent from the purchaser if each of them is represented by the agent.
I would like to highlight a few points:
1) What is the recourse to the buyer without an agent if the seller’s agent insists that the potential buyer pay a 1 per cent commission, failing which the agent won’t go through with the transaction to sell the HDB flat to the buyer? The buyer is pressured by the agent because if he/she doesn’t pay the 1 per cent commission, the seller’s agent will not entertain the buyer upon signing the Option to Purchase. If the buyer decides to use legal recourse (which would take months), the property will be bought by other buyers who are willing to pay the 1 per cent commission. How does this benefit the seller as the agent is acting on his/her own interests rather than the seller’s? How is the buyer’s interest protected in this case? Is there any way to report the rogue agent to the authorities?
2. Are professional fees highlighted on the IEA website regulated or enforced? I am asking this because an agent can flout the rules by not letting any potential buyer view the property if he/she insists on not paying the 1 per cent commission to the agent although the agent is already paid 2 per cent by the seller. Any buyer who insists on not paying the 1 per cent commission will have considerably fewer chances to view flats. And the seller will, in turn, get fewer sales opportunities because his/her agent wants to pocket commissions from both the buyer and the seller.
3. Agents who flout the rules are punished lightly. If fired, they will simply join rival agencies. Because of the light punishment, agents are not afraid of breaking the rules. Lawsuits are out of reach for the common people, and rouge agents are using this knowledge to their advantage. How are property buyers/sellers protected from rouge agents?
4. The regulating authority should use ‘mystery shoppers’ (or ‘buyers’ in this case) to make spot checks on agents. Those found guilty should be banned or punished severely. This is to protect genuine agents who play by the rules.
Source : Straits Times - 31 Oct 2007