Get it down in writing

2013-12

An estate agent promised a prospective purchaser verbally that he would give her a cash rebate equivalent to half of his commission when persuading her to buy a unit of a new residential development.

After buying a unit through this estate agent, the purchaser asked the agent to set out the rebate arrangement in writing and the agent claimed it was under preparation.

The purchaser urged the agent repeatedly to honor the promise of the rebate but he kept saying that he was still following up on the matter.

The purchaser then asked the estate agency that employed the property agent for the rebate. However, an employee of the estate agency told her that the agent denied having made such a promise and therefore the company would not provide any rebate to her.

In this case, the estate agent failed to comply with the practice circular issued by the Estate Agents Authority on the conduct in the first sale of residential properties.

According to the circular, if a licensee offers incentives to purchasers in the first sale of residential properties, he must inform the purchasers of the details of the incentive schemes and state clearly the terms and format in writing.

Estate agencies must issue clear guidelines to staff on their offer of incentives and establish proper procedures to fulfill the incentives offered.

Consumers are reminded that where an estate agent has offered incentives, they should request the offer be made in writing. This should clearly state the terms and format of the incentives and also whether they are offered by the developer or by the estate agency.