Danger lurks when property consultants also trade

PROPERTY consultants may be tempted to invest in real estate, but to be a good consultant, one needs to be somewhat detached and not get carried away, says a veteran in the business.

“Some of them think that with the knowledge they have, it is a sure thing; so they start to take positions. They may get carried away and start trading in property. But in their job as a property consultant, they are not supposed to do that,” says Knight Frank Singapore’s executive chairman, Tan Tiong Cheng, when asked to offer advice to those planning a career as a property consultant.

Apart from clouded judgement, there could also be potential conflict of interest issues.

“As a property consultant or as an agent, you are supposed to serve your client, yet there have been cases where the agent took a position by buying the property from the client,” said Mr Tan.

He attributes Singaporeans’ keen interest in property to the state’s policy of encouraging home ownership, initiated decades ago. In itself, this is a good objective.

But with home ownership at very high levels, Singapore having limited land and Singaporeans seeming to think that the government always gets them out of difficult situations, the preoccupation with property investment could become excessive.

His advice to anyone looking for their dream home is: “When buying a property, the most important thing is to make sure that should you decide this is not your dream home, you are able to find other people who think it is their dream home.”

“Whatever property you buy, just make sure that there is a pool of similar-minded people, so that if you change your mind, you can offload it.”

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