Changes ‘will benefit buyers’

Greater transparency and more accurate information beckon for prospective home-buyers under proposed changes put up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday, which analysts believe could tip the balance of power in the consumer’s favour.

Under the proposed amendments to the rules governing property developers here, developers will have to share detailed information, including a break-down of the unit’s floor area listing the different types of spaces such as balconies and bay windows.

Among other proposals, developers must also list the prices of all the units, publish transacted prices as well as get a home-buyer’s consent for changes that would affect his unit.

A pet peeve among property hunters will also be addressed: Developers have to set up showflats that depict the actual units accurately.

Starting today, the URA is conducting a public consultation on the proposed changes. The consultation period ends on April 18.

Prospective home-buyers MediaCorp spoke to welcomed the proposed changes, which Mr K C Chua, 40, said would “take the guesswork away”.

Said Mr Chua, a lawyer: “Right now, many people are buying them without knowing what they are getting into.”

Sales director Frankie Leong, 54, described the proposed new rules as “long overdue and timely”.

Said Mr Leong: “It will rein in the tricks developers have been using. I do wish that the Government went further by requesting that developers reveal sales to related parties such as its sales agents and directors – as sometimes these are the ones that are flipping property.”

Ms M Tan, an investor, also urged the authorities to go further.

She said: “Just look at the newspaper advertisements and even the hoardings, is it one block surrounded by greenery? All the neighbouring blocks are airbrushed away. It’s misleading. There should be stricter advertisement rules.”

Analysts believe the disclosure of more information would lead to better-informed buyers.

Citing the proposed requirement for developers to state the size of the various parts of an apartment, Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International, said: “The buyer will have a better understanding of what is the actual internal space of their apartment.”

Chesterton Suntec International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan said he would further recommend that the breakdown be included in the legal title documents “so that these information are not lost when sold onwards to other buyers”.

The analysts noted that the proposed changes would allow buyers to compare projects and bargain for a better deal. This will, in turn, put pressure on developers to offer more value-for-money products.

When contacted, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore said it supports the Government’s efforts to help buyers make more informed decisions.

But some developers felt that too much focus on price was detrimental to home-buyers’ interest.

Said Heeton Holdings chief operating officer Danny Low: “We don’t want to come to a stage where people try to sell an apple for 100 grammes at a certain price, and another (person) shouting, ‘I’m selling at this price’. That would distract the attention of the buyer who will then have to decide, should I go for the cheaper one or should I go for the developer’s (reputation) and the location?”

Daniel Teo Group chairman Daniel Teo noted that the proposed new rules were “quite onerous” for smaller developers.

He said: “For bigger projects, you may have to get more staff to back you up, engage outside consultants. Overall, it will definitely bite into our profit margin.”

Source : Today – 17 Mar 2011

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