URA to end use of misleading showflats

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has plans to clamp down on developers who use misleading showflats to lure flat buyers.

Replying to queries from Channel NewsAsia, URA said it is reviewing the law — the Housing Developers (Control & Licensing) Act and Housing Developers Rules — governing housing developers so that flat buyers have more accurate information on housing projects.

According to analysts, misrepresentations could include missing structural walls and rooms that look larger than what buyers will eventually get.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said: “In order to make some of their smaller apartments larger than what they are in the show flat, (developers) may exercise certain creative interior design”.

Mr Mak said this includes replacing a partition wall with a glass door.

A local newspaper reported Tuesday that the new rules would ensure developers display showflats with all their structural walls and columns and with accurate ceiling height.

Other likely regulations include clearly marking out the divide between the balcony and living rooms, and using walls that have the same thickness as in the actual apartment.

Bomb shelters, when required, are also reportedly required to be present in the showflats.

ERA Realty Network key executive officer Eugene Lim said: “This is probably triggered by consumer feedback that some consumers cannot visualise what they are actually buying and what is being offered in the showflat.

“And not everyone can read a floor plan and look at the showflat and see the differences”.

Market watchers said new rules would be a step in the right direction as showflats are key to the purchase decision.

Said Mr Mak: “I think the authorities will probably monitor the situation once the rules are firmed up and if there are any developers who flout the rules they could perhaps start off by being served with (a) warning letter.

“Later on, (penalties could come in the form of) a fine or even something more drastic such as the authorities (not allowing developers) to sell their product”.

URA said proposed amendments to the law would help flat buyers make better decisions.

More details will be shared in March when a public consultation will be launched.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 8 Feb 2011