CEA spells out rules for queues in condo launches

Straits Times: Fri, Dec 02

THE estate agency watchdog has spelt out in detail for the first time the rules on queues for condominium launches as it investigates claims that agents may have flouted the guidelines in marketing CapitaLand’s Bedok Residences.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the showroom days before the official launch. The Straits Times reported that the queue included agents and people paid by them to wait.

This scene raised the question of what was the true picture of the demand for the units, which were marketed by ERA Realty.

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) stated yesterday that estate agents can queue on behalf of their clients or even employ queue helpers as long as they do not infringe any law or regulation.

But CEA said agents should not join the queue without actual buyers as it would give a false impression of the actual demand for the development.

The CEA also said that collaborating with someone or inducing them to join the line to then sell their queue numbers to potential buyers may violate the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care. The code is part of the Estate Agents Act 2010.

The CEA’s stand follows feedback received by CEA that those queuing at Bedok Residences were hired just to hype up the level of demand.

Following this feedback, CEA told The Straits Times that it conducted three on-site audits.

It has also told marketing agent ERA Realty that it should conduct checks on its agents to ensure no malpractice. It added that investigations are ongoing following the feedback.

ERA Realty said it is providing the CEA with information on how it manages sales.

‘In the absence of any new regulations, how ERA will market properties in future depends on (developers’) instructions and their preferred mode of sale, depending on the nature and response of the project,’ said ERA Realty’s key executive officer, Mr Eugene Lim.

CapitaLand reiterated that the queue system is fair and transparent, and said the marketing of each development will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Bedok Residences is more than 80 per cent sold.

The CEA probe may have wider ramifications, possibly affecting the way projects are launched and marketed.

‘Developers and agents will definitely be more careful of how they carry out their marketing and sale of new launches in future and… work through the possible issues they might face if they opt for a queuing system,’ said Mr Eric Cheng, chief executive of ECG Property.

The CEA, which comprises academics, professionals and senior government officers from property related sectors, has the power and tools to investigate and discipline agencies and agents that fail to comply with regulations and codes.

It can issue warnings, fines, suspensions and even bar agencies and agents.

cherlim@sph.com.sg

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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