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Thread: What to look out out for when hiring housing agent

  1. #1
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    What to look out out for when hiring housing agent

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    Hi guys, I intend to move house and so actively looking for a reliable housing agent. Here are my questions:
    a) What is the fee rate that we need to pay an agent when we are selling and buying in HDB resale market.
    b) Are all housing agents qualified to sell HDB flats? That is, must they be registered with HDB?
    c) Must I sign any contract with an agent before he/she can represent me?
    d) If in any event, I have to terminate this serivce contract before the agent can complete the sale of my flat, what are the costs that I should pay him? Advertisment costs? Valuation report?
    e) Must I look for an agent who "specilize" in my estate so he/she is able to find a buyer faster?
    f) Are there any hidden costs besides the fees that I need to pay an housing agent?
    g) Any local website/ forum dealing with HDB resale market that can help me?
    I hope those bros/ sis who have gone through all the "pains" to move to their new homes can advise me.

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    I'm also in the process of moving house and I find my agent to be really professional. He's been in the profession for 9 years and has won numerous awards in the industry for his service. Would you like to have his contact number to find out more?
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    Quote Originally Posted by wks
    a) What is the fee rate that we need to pay an agent when we are selling and buying in HDB resale market.
    should be a standard 2+1%, can't remember which is for sale and purchase

    b) Are all housing agents qualified to sell HDB flats? That is, must they be registered with HDB?
    yes, they need to be registered, look at their profilo, some agents only deals in HDB

    c) Must I sign any contract with an agent before he/she can represent me?
    this one I do not know , my last transaction is based on trust

    d) If in any event, I have to terminate this serivce contract before the agent can complete the sale of my flat, what are the costs that I should pay him? Advertisment costs? Valuation report?
    you better ask them before anything else

    e) Must I look for an agent who "specilize" in my estate so he/she is able to find a buyer faster?
    yes, defintely. They usually have a pool of potiental clients

    f) Are there any hidden costs besides the fees that I need to pay an housing agent?
    nope. except if you include legal fees/stamp duty

    g) Any local website/ forum dealing with HDB resale market that can help me?
    I hope those bros/ sis who have gone through all the "pains" to move to their new homes can advise me.
    none
    Last edited by vinz; 16th Mar 2006 at 17:37.

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    I've been checking it out too. The CPF and HDB websites for home buyers have been very helpful to me. They covered stuff from financial planning, to fees to be expected, legibility for grants (of course) and loans (HDB or bank), what CPF can be used to pay for.

    Lots of info. Now I have a headache.

    www.hdb.gov.sg and www.cpf.gov.sg. The links are pretty obvious.
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    Thanks weirong, Simon and Vincent for all your help. Vincent, I have checked through the HDB and CPF sites, unfortunately they provide little info if any thing else on housing agents. Weirong, I would appreciate if you can pm me your agent's contact no.

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    My shot at your questions. It does not overwrite what Simon and others have contributed. Just my point of view as I also sold my place last Nov, transaction completed 1 mth back.

    Quote Originally Posted by wks
    a) What is the fee rate that we need to pay an agent when we are selling and buying in HDB resale market.
    Typically it is 2% as seller and 1% as buyer. But all these are written very clearly in the contract. Some agent will have different conditions for him as seller or if he co-broke with another agent. If you know the agent, then he may charge you less than 2% as seller.

    b) Are all housing agents qualified to sell HDB flats? That is, must they be registered with HDB?
    Just like anything, there are freelance agent. The paper work for selling a HDB is very simple.

    c) Must I sign any contract with an agent before he/she can represent me?
    There are such thing as 'exclusive agent' and there is a contract for it. Most agents would want to be your exclusive agent.. It can act to your adventage; as exclusive agent he/she will be more driven to advertise for you.. if you give your flat to many agents to sell, each of them will adopt the attitude of treating your flat as 'good-to-have'; if can sell, sell. Else they won't care. Take note of the content of the contract. Read carefully before you sign. Most of these contract are written to the advantage of the agent. There is an area you need to fill in the price you want to sell. Set it as high as possible, cos if you don't and if anyone offer the price you wrote, then you are obliged to sell. By putting in a high figure, you can opt to sell low but no one can force you to sell below your expectation.

    d) If in any event, I have to terminate this serivce contract before the agent can complete the sale of my flat, what are the costs that I should pay him? Advertisment costs? Valuation report?
    For exclusive contract the terms of this situation is stated very clearly. Typically you have to pay the agent the commission as though the sale was completed through him/her. That is to cover all his/her cost. If you found your own buyer, the way out is to hold out the deal till after the contractural period expires.

    e) Must I look for an agent who "specilize" in my estate so he/she is able to find a buyer faster?
    That's better. But the flip side is that he/she will have so many flats to sell that he/she may not focus on your flat.

    f) Are there any hidden costs besides the fees that I need to pay an housing agent?
    All costs are stated in the contract that you signed. If there is no signed contract, then legally you do not need to pay him/her anything.

    g) Any local website/ forum dealing with HDB resale market that can help me?
    Whatever is out there is out there.
    Last edited by vinz; 16th Mar 2006 at 17:39.

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    Addendum to Nicky's points:

    Quote Originally Posted by wks
    c) Must I sign any contract with an agent before he/she can represent me?
    No contract needed but they will try to persuade you to sign an exclusive representation contract. What it means is that you can only buy/sell flat via that agent and no one else. To what extend are the legal bindings, it will depend on the cotract itself.

    If I remember correctly, they will also specify the period covered for this exclusive representation. If they are not able to find a buyer/seller for you within x number of months, then you may find other agents to respresent you as well.

    This is not necessary but without the exclusive representation, the perception is that the agent may not work as hard to complete your transaction. This is just a perception but in reality, it may not be true.

    d) If in any event, I have to terminate this service contract before the agent can complete the sale of my flat, what are the costs that I should pay him? Advertisment costs? Valuation report?
    I believe the exclusive contracts differ from agent to agent, even for those from the same company. Check and understand the contracts before signing ANYTHING.

    e) Must I look for an agent who "specilize" in my estate so he/she is able to find a buyer faster?
    Generally yes, but in reality again, a lot depends on other factors. Some months are better than others, some estates are better than others, some agents are better than others, some buyers are easier than others, some sellers are easier than others... a lot depends on luck and timing.

    ==========
    Most importantly, if you are buying a flat, please make sure you are able to get the loan first. A lot of buyers did not check this prior to completing the transaction. So after signing the agreements/contracts, only then did they check with the banks and boy, did they get a nasty surprise. The banks did not approve their loans.

    If you have not sold your current flat, then it is not too bad. You probably only forfeit the downpayment etc. But if you have already sold your flat and now unable to buy a new flat, you are in trouble.

    Not sure what the bank's criteria were, but generally, it will not be approved if there is no CPF contribution to your account for sometime (or something to that extent). I have come across/heard at least 3 such cases.

    Do check with the banks regarding the loan first before you proceed with signing anything. I know of some banks that have some kind of pre-loan approval that is valid for a period where you would have to find a flat by then.

    But then these are some 2 years back. Not sure if things have changed since then.

    To be safe, always check with all parties and contents of whatever contracts first before singing anything. Go through the websites provided, do your research and ask lots and lots of questions.
    Last edited by vinz; 16th Mar 2006 at 17:41.

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    IMHO, if you think your flat is quite popular and easy to sell, you might want to consider not to sell through an agent, but advertise yourself. Many agents will then call you, and you only deal with those who have buyers, so that you don't pay seller's commission. Can use standard Option Form. When deal is settled, just pay some kopi money to ask the seller's agent to help you with the paper work at HDB. It's cheaper than paying the 1-2% fee. Don't take my word for it. Do it at your own risk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lwm999
    When deal is settled, just pay some kopi money to ask the seller's agent to help you with the paper work at HDB. It's cheaper than paying the 1-2% fee. Don't take my word for it. Do it at your own risk.
    The paper work is so damn straight forward that it is possible to save the kopi money and represent yourself when you are selling your flat. I did it myself and save lots of momey

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