CEA investigating 20 cases for infringement of ad guidelines

The Council of Estate Agents (CEA) is investigating some 20 possible cases of unethical advertising.

This comes one month after its new advertising guidelines for property agents came into effect on August 1.

CEA’s director for regulatory control, Mr Lee Say Kee said dummy ads, which advertise fictional properties or properties which do not have the owner’s consent remain the most serious.

Others include advertisements that omit important information such as the salesperson’s registration and contact numbers.

CEA also said it has an in-house team to scan online property portals, classified ads and flyers.

But about half the cases under investigation are from complaints from the public.

The council said the larger agencies have put in place checks to regulate advertising content by their sales agents, but there remain concerns over smaller estate agencies.

Local estate agency PropNex, which has some 4,500 registered agents, said it clears its agents’ ads by email and provides serial numbers for every approved item.

“Before that, marketing gimmicks can be applied but now the information has to be a more accurate and cannot be misleading to the consumers. Now, there’s more real information provided in the (agents’) marketing collaterals and I think we’re seeing more professionalism in terms of the marketing material that’s being distributed,” said Lim Yong Hock, Agency Senior VP, PropNex Realty.

PropNex Agency vice-president Lim Yong Hock added that agents find the process more troublesome and time-consuming, but will have to understand that it’s now an industry necessity.

Channel News Asia understands that the industry is concerned about “rogue” agents who do not follow any guidelines, and “one-man” companies that may be harder to reach.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 1 Sep 2011

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