Business Times – 25 Mar 2008
THE Housing and Development Board will introduce mandatory checklists for housing agents handling resale flat transactions from May 1 – a move welcomed by industry players.
The checklists cover key policies and procedures that housing agents will need to advise resale flat buyers and sellers on before they commit to a transaction, HDB said yesterday.
‘This is part of HDB’s ongoing efforts to ensure that buyers and sellers are aware of the relevant HDB purchase and financing policies when buying/selling an HDB flat,’ it said.
The move comes after a new scam involving HDB flats surfaced recently. Under the scam, a seller and buyer together report a falsely low sale price to HDB.
The buyer then pays the difference between the actual and declared price to the seller in cash, which means the seller has more cash in hand – rather than having any leftover money go back into his CPF account. To sweeten the deal, the seller usually gives the buyer a discount on the market value of the flat.
Under HDB’s new initiative, housing agents will have to submit a completed resale checklist to HDB with a resale application. Resale applications that do not comply with this requirement will be rejected and there will be ‘serious penalties’ for false declarations.
Housing agents engaged by both sellers and buyers will have to go through a resale checklist with clients before an option to purchase (OTP) is granted or exercised.
Buyers and sellers who do not engage the services of housing agents need not submit a checklist. PropNex, which says it has more than 40 per cent of the public housing resale market, welcomed HDB’s move.
Public housing has many policies and financing requirements that many may not be familiar with, said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.
Most buyers tend not to read the important notes attached to OTP, he said.
The new resale checklist for housing agents engaged by buyers, for example, will ensure that buyers are aware of their rights as well as of financing matters. It will also highlight to them the fact that any form of cashback arrangement, such as over or under declaration, is punishable by law.
Similarly, the checklist for sellers’ housing agents will ensure prospective sellers understand the various eligibility rules.
Mr Ismail said that while many agents already educate potential buyers and sellers, some may not, leaving them in the dark.
‘This initiative should lead to greater transparency for buyers and sellers, and ensure a consistently high level of professionalism amongst the agents,’ he said.