Why property agents should act for only one party

I REFER to last Thursday’s Forum Online letters by Mrs Teresa Yao (‘How new rules can protect property agents’) and Mr Teo Kueh Liang (‘Barring same-agent property brokerage not practical’).

Both writers have highlighted the plight of the majority of ethical property agents, whose image has been tarnished by a small group of unscrupulous and dishonest agents.

In any profession, it is impossible to completely wipe out the bad hats. Therefore, after an acceptable standard of practice has been established, understood and made into law, non-compliant practices should be punished.

In any property transaction, the two most important parties are the seller and the buyer. They must enter into a legally binding contract in order for the sale to go through. It is therefore natural that we facilitate the interests of the seller and the buyer first.

The interests of the property agent come after those of the seller and the buyer, as his role can come into being only after he has been appointed.

The terms of appointment, that is, what the agent can or cannot do, for example, must be expressedly agreed between him and the one who appoints him, so that there is no ambiguity that leads to future problems.

When the Ministry of National Development puts into law a system for the seller, the buyer and the property agent, it must separately examine the relationship between the seller or buyer and the property agent, from the relationship between the seller and the buyer. If the seller or the buyer chooses to hand the responsibilities over to his agent, he must adequately reward the agent.

To protect his own interests, the property agent should act for only one party and not both.

Patrick Sio

Source : Straits Times – 4 Nov 2009

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