Looking to buy or sell a house? You’ll always encounter this individual. He or she will be well-dressed in formal attire and is often spotted at condo showrooms island-wide. Yep, they’re your property agents.
What do you really know about real estate agents in Singapore? More importantly, do the services they offer really justify the steep fees some of them charge? This article will break down some of the assumptions you may have about them and give you tips on how to deal with property agents.
Here’s a preview of the 7 myths about property agents:
1. You will sell your house faster with multiple agents than just one.
2. Commission fees for property agents are fixed.
3. You need a property agent to handle your transactions.
4. Property agents from big agencies are better than those from smaller firms.
5. Property agents have no specialized skills.
6. Both you and your buyer/seller have to pay the property agent.
7. Your property agent can handle money transactions on your behalf.
You may think that the more property agents you have, the higher your chances of buying or selling your house. Well, we hate to break it to you, but all agents use the same platforms for property listings. That means you’ll end up drawing from the same pool whether you have one agent or several.
On top of that, your plan may backfire. Property agents may be less motivated to close your deal since their commissions are less certain. You might even face the other extreme of agents compromising on your interests to close the deal quickly.
If you’re in a hurry, your best bet is to look for an agent with a good track record in your specific property type and then sign an exclusive agreement with them. The agent will be more motivated and dedicate more time to closing the deal before the exclusivity period is up.
Think agent commissions are pegged to a certain market rate? Think again. Commission fees are variable and can range from 1% all the way to 5% depending on the property being transacted. Luxury private properties going for above $5 million might even have an extra 5% commission on top of the typical 2% fee. That’s why it’s best to ask your agent about the commission fees up front to save yourself from a rude shock later on.
On that note, agent commissions are sometimes negotiable. There’s no regulation dictating a minimum or maximum, so don’t feel paiseh about asking for a better rate. Just remember that sometimes it’s worth it to remunerate your agent well if you want better service.
That said, it is possible to get the best of both worlds: excellent service at affordable rates. Bluenest incentivizes agents by compensating them based on your satisfaction level, which means a Bluenest agent will always seek to serve your best interests. The company’s thorough vetting process also ensures that you’ll have only the most experienced agents working on your behalf.
It’s true! You don’t need a real estate agent to help with the selling and buying of properties. It’s easy to mind your own business literally with the technology available today. We even have step-by-step guides to walk you through projects like buying a resale HDB, selling your condo, and even applying for your first BTO.
However, transacting properties is an uphill task. You’ll need to learn all the property laws and regulations to address the necessary paperwork. It can be a nightmare. Don’t forget that this is on top of your regular day job! Can you handle the mental drain after a long day at work?
A good agent can take much of the load off your shoulders and only concern you with the most important details.
Larger agencies typically have a bigger pool of agents for you to choose from. However, their experience varies. You might end up with a novice agent, or perhaps an agent who doesn’t specialize in your type of property.
That’s why it’s better to review a real estate agent’s track record rather than base your choice off the agency’s size. For instance, what properties has he or she transacted recently? How long does it typically take the agent to close the deal -- and at what price? And remember -- just because a friend/relative recommended the agent doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be a good fit, so ask a few good questions before you sign that exclusive agreement.
It’s easy to think that property agents are a little like insurance agents. After all, they’ve got a set of products (properties) to work with, and they’re often just as pushy with their marketing tactics. As long as you’re willing to do the research, isn’t it simple enough to handle your own property transactions?
Well, yes and no. The fact is that the laws and regulations surrounding property transactions can be difficult to decipher, They’re also updated every so often in response to changing market conditions, so it takes quite a bit of work to stay abreast of all the developments.
To make sure they can properly advise their clients on these regulations, every property agent in Singapore must pass the entry exam by the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) to practice. Also, all agents must undergo a prescribed training program after passing the exams. Much like the continuing professional development programs we have at our workplaces, all property agents are required to constantly update their skills.
That said, as with any vocation, there are certain agents who are better than others - and who’ll work better with you as well. It’s best to look for an agent with whom you’ve got good rapport, since you’ll be liaising with them pretty often!
Your agent cannot represent both you and your buyer/seller in the same transaction. That’s a conflict of interest. If you’re selling, you’ll want a higher selling price. If you’re buying, you’ll want a lower selling price.
Neither can there be any ang baos or under-the-table gifts to agents from either side -- unless they’d like to take a “staycation” at Changi Prison.
Real estate agents in Singapore are not allowed to handle your money transfers. No matter how well you know your agent, it is illegal for them to handle monies like sales proceeds or rental income.
FYI, there were past cases of unethical agents who took off with the hundreds of thousands their clients handed them. Moral of the story: Don’t tempt your agent or end up paying the price as the victim.
You should handle all the money transactions yourself. You can pay directly with secure payment methods such as interbank transfers and crossed cheques.
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Caleb is an avid adventurer. Having grown up in Singapore, he constantly looks for unconventional ways to optimize his resources and investments. He travels widely with the desire for new perspectives, opportunities, and cuisines.