One of the most stressful things — and one of the most rewarding — is navigating the property market to buy, rent, or sell a home while maintaining a healthy, happy relationship. Whatever your property goal and level of kiasu-ness, your relationship should always be your top priority. Be open, giving, and communicative, and the relationship will grow into something amazing. But we’re not talking about just any relationship. We’re talking about the most important partnership — the one between you and your property agent.
A steady relationship with a property agent? Crazy ah? But if you sayang this partnership, then your property transaction will be smooth, successful, and stress-free. And isn’t that really the most important thing when it comes to buying, selling, or renting property in Singapore?
Read on and get valuable advice from the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) and the life experts (naturally) at Coconuts.
1. Can or not?
There’s always that one person who’s going to stand by you no matter what. No, we don’t mean dear old ah mah. Nor are we talking about your husband, wife, gf, or bf (although we really hope they stick around too!). We’re talking about your property agent. This helpful guy or gal is going to be your legit, go-to person for your entire property journey.
If you’re feeling super confident about your own property skills then by all means, you can choose to do it alone, without an agent. That’s ok with us! It’s not compulsory for you to use an agent for property transactions, but if you’re not familiar with the procedures and regulations, engage a property agent to help facilitate your transactions.
Lesson learned: Engage a property agent if you are not familiar with procedures and regulations related to property transactions.
2. Don’t bluff
What’s the first thing to check when you’ve decided to engage a property agent? Okay lah, the sub-heading gave it away — you have to check that your agent is the real deal by ensuring he or she is registered with CEA. To be a property agent, they have to be registered and have a unique CEA registration number. (It’s actually an offence if they aren’t!) Check CEA’s Public Register to ensure your property agent is legit.
Once you have double confirmed your agent is CEA-ok, then let your relationship bloom. You’ll be spending a lot of time together after all! Take a look at the video below to see if your fellow Singaporeans knew that registration is the first thing to check about your property agent.
Lesson learned: Before engaging a property agent, ensure he or she is registered with CEA.
3. Own time, own target
Life is a series of negotiations where, hopefully, both parties come out feeling happy. You should be aware that your agent’s commission is totally negotiable, and there is no fixed rate. You should discuss the commission rate with your agent before your agent starts work.
Take every factor into consideration such as the scope of work that the agent will be handling for you, the extensiveness of the marketing effort, coordinating viewings and appointments with various parties. After you have a clear idea of what your agent will be doing, negotiate the commission rate with your agent, and come to an agreement before your agent starts work.
Watch this short clip below and see how many people really understand the agent commission situation.
Lesson learned: You can negotiate your agent’s commission before he starts work.
4. Confirm plus chop
Just like signing a legal marriage document (and thus making mum and dad happy), it’s important to sign certain documents with your property agent when you’re ready to proceed.
Then you’re both bound for life to love and support each other.
You simply need to sign an estate agency agreement to protect the agent and your interests. Also, you must fill in and sign a Customer’s Particulars Form, one of the measures property agents must take to prevent money laundering and counter-terrorism financing in Singapore (yes, it’s serious stuff, so it’s better to be safe than sorry). Even commitment-phobes can handle that, right?
Lesson learned: Sign two important documents with the property agency – the estate agency agreement and the Customer’s Particulars Form.
5. Don’t anyhow
The most important part of a relationship is always having each other’s back. You and your property agent are a team and you should be united on your decisions, especially when it comes to getting the best deal. And since they’re always on your side, they can’t represent the other side. That means if you’re the buyer, they cannot also represent the seller, or if you’re the tenant, they cannot represent the landlord, and vice versa. This ensures there is no conflict of interest.
Play the video below and prepare to be surprised at how many people got this question right.
Lesson learned: Understand your agent’s responsibilities.
6. On the ball
It’s important to be open and honest in every relationship when it comes to your budget and spending. In the most important relationship — the one with your property agent, abuden! — it’s exactly the same. You should be upfront about how the finances related to the property transaction will be handled, and be responsible for handling your own money. This ensures a smooth relationship, and no money issues with your property agent whatsoever.
Actually, it is illegal for your agent to handle certain monies related to the transaction. In any case, it’s best for you to handle this yourself with the other party, not through the agent.
And as much as possible, use verifiable payment modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers. If you do need to pay cash, keep those receipts.
Here’s a handy dandy chart showing what monies agents can handle in a property transaction.
Did your fellow Singaporeans get this one right? Watch and see.
Lesson learned: Handle your own money
We hope you’ve learned some valuable lessons to make the most of that oh-so-important relationship with your property agent. For more information about working with property agents, visit www.cea.gov.sg/happyconsumer. Enjoy your journey from property newbie to happy (and savvy) consumer!
This article, 6 steps to build a steady relationship when you’re buying, selling, or renting your home together, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!