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 Singapore : No sale, but agent wants commission

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Number of posts : 332
Registration date : 2008-01-28

Singapore : No sale, but agent wants commission Empty
PostSubject: Singapore : No sale, but agent wants commission   Singapore : No sale, but agent wants commission EmptyMon Mar 31, 2008 7:23 pm

No sale, but agent wants commission

WHY should you pay for service which you never received?

That was what a family in Ang Mo Kio asked when they refused to pay their housing agent because the latter allegedly failed to help them sell their flat.

But the real estate company said it was the family that did not want to proceed with the deal after it had found a buyer.

The company filed a claim against them at the Small Claims Tribunal for its commission of about $4,000 in January.

More than 1 1/2 years after the family hired the agent to sell their three-room flat, the case was settled, on 17 Mar.

The tribunal ordered the family to pay the realtor just $250 - half the $500 option fee received from the potential buyer.

The order was met with relief by fishmonger Tan Tian Siong, 60, and his wife, Madam Hong Yin Ching, 48, who said they put their home up for sale because of severe financial difficulties.

The couple, who have a combined monthly income of $700, have three children.

Their 21-year-old son is intellectually disabled, while their 8-year-old son was born with a cleft lip and his right arm had to be amputated at the elbow when he was 3, after an illness.

Their 22-year-old daughter is in polytechnic and the money from the sale of the flat was meant to pay for her education.

Said Madam Hong in Mandarin: 'We're so glad it's finally over. It was so stressful.'

The real estate company, ERA Realty Network, said it had claimed the commission as it had secured a ready and willing buyer for the flat.

But Mr Eugene Lim, ERA's assistant vice-president, said the company accepted the tribunal's decision.

The saga started in August 2006, when the Tans hired ERA agent Jeremy Ang, and put their Ang Mo Kio flat on the market.

They thought it should be easy to sell their flat and Mr Ang found them a buyer in December that year. But, at the last minute, the buyer backed out.

Then in April last year, Mr Ang found them another set of buyers, who wanted to buy the flat for $193,000.

The Tans said the potential buyers signed an option to purchase and paid them an option fee of $500 on 22 Apr.

After they received a copy of the option form from Mr Ang, they said they realised there was no start or expiry date on it.

They showed a copy of the dateless option form to The New Paper.

The Tans claimed that for one month, they kept calling Mr Ang but could not reach him.

They called HDB and found out that an option to purchase usually expires in two weeks.

Tired of waiting, they called HDB in late May to cancel the application to sell the flat.

They showed The New Paper a letter from the HDB dated 29 May confirming the cancellation.

That same week, they received a bill from ERA for $4,053 as commission.

Madam Hong shows papers on the unsuccessful sale of her flat. With her is Le Ming, who lost part of his right arm to an illness, while intellectually disabled older son Guo Xiong stands at the back.
The Tans ignored the bill and filed a complaint against the agent with the Consumers Association of Singapore.

Said Madam Hong: 'Why do we have to pay him commission when he didn't manage to sell my flat after one whole year? I would rather use the money to pay for my children's needs.'

In July, they received a lawyer's letter from the potential buyers.

The potential buyers claimed they had given Mr Ang another $500 to exercise the option on 3 May and asked why the Tans had cancelled the sale.

The buyers also lodged a caveat - a notice of their claim to the property - against the Ang Mo Kio flat.

Said Madam Hong: 'We were so shocked. We never received the $500 exercise fee.'

They had to hire a lawyer, and after several rounds of letters, the potential buyers agreed to withdraw the caveat, and each side paid its own legal fees.

The Tans' bill came to about $1,500. They borrowed from relatives to pay it.

But ERA's Mr Lim has a different version of what happened.


He said that there was a mutual understanding between the Tans and the potential buyers that the option form be left undated until the buyers got a loan approval letter from the bank.

That was why it was eventually dated 2 May. And he said the Tans were fully aware of this.

He said ERA tried several times to pass the $500 exercise fee to the Tans, but the couple kept rejecting the money. The buyer's agent also tried to do so.

After the case was decided last Monday, Madam Hong said: 'It's like a weight is finally off our shoulders. Now, we can finally move on.'
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