The Straits Times
Published on Nov 19, 2012

Offer better protection to buyers of foreign properties


LAST month, I obliged a friend and attended a sales seminar about a property project in Australia ("Regulate marketing of foreign properties here" by Ms Tan Lee-Lin; Oct 23).

After the seminar, we were told by sales staff that units were selling fast. I was persuaded to get one after a staff member said that all I needed to do was to pay $6,000 to reserve a unit.

After he accepted payment via credit card and obtained my signature on the relevant documents, he informed me that the $6,000 was non-refundable, and excused himself immediately, pleading fatigue.

Subsequently, I discovered that the project was not yet approved by the Australian authorities, and that my unit was ineligible for a housing loan.

When I sought to cancel my booking within the requisite seven-day grace period because I was not alerted to the non-refundable clause, I was turned down.

The service I received upset me enough to cancel my credit card.

There must be better rules to protect local buyers of overseas properties. For instance, the use of credit cards for all foreign property transactions should be banned.

Rules should also require sales staff to explain non-refundability, and to have buyers sign a clause on this to indicate that they are aware of and agree to it. Should a buyer see through the purchase, the deposit should be included as part of the payment towards buying the unit.

Wong Jee Kiat (Ms)