Resale flats: New checklist

From May, agents must apprise buyers, sellers of HDB policies

MORE transparency and fewer disputes – these are the twin aims of a new checklist that housing agents will have to go through with buyers and sellers before a HDB resale flat transaction can be completed.

Similar to what insurance agents have to do with their clients before sealing a policy, property agents will have to cover the key items of a resale flat transaction, such as the potential buyer’s liability to pay upgrading costs, if any.

The “resale checklist”, announced yesterday by the Housing and Development Board and which will take effect from May 1, is to ensure that buyers and sellers are aware of purchase and financing policies.

When asked if the move was to rein in errant agents, the HDB said there has been feedback and suggestions from the public that agents should highlight certain important points to their clients.

“It would also prevent situations whereby the resale transaction has to be cancelled or delayed due to miscommunication and ignorance about policies,” said an HDB spokes-person.

Industry players told Today the checklist might deter practices such as under-declaring or over-declaring flat prices so that either buyers or sellers can get cash in hand.

One of the checks is on giving accurate information. The penalties for giving false statements under the HDB Act are highlighted in a bright yellow box, which also lists stiffer penalties – of up to three years in jail – under another law for false statements in a statutory declaration, such as the checklist.

The HDB began preparations for the checklist last September after consultation with industry associations Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies, Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, and Institute of Estate Agents.

Real estate firms and their agents welcomed the news.

Said property agent Rohana Abdullah, who has encountered many buyers who are unaware of the many HDB rules and regulations: “Now, they will know whatever I do is because of regulation and not because I’m trying to make the deal difficult.”

Potential buyers also thought a checklist would be helpful, although some wondered if the additional paperwork would be an effective deterrent for errant practices.

HDB receives about 30,000 applications for resale flats annually and about 92 per cent of the cases engaged housing agents to guide them through the resale process.

Source : Today – 25 Mar 2008