Is collecting signed blank cheques from potential home buyers proper?

Recently, I participated in a VIP preview of a new condominium project.

At the preview, the developer, through its appointed marketing agent, collected cheques from potential buyers.

Those who were interested to take part in the balloting were told to submit a signed blank cheque.

I understand that this has been the common practice for some time and it is to ensure that only serious buyers take part in the balloting.

I was told that I could back out any time as long as I did not sign the option to purchase (OTP), and the cheque would be returned or destroyed.

It might be a marketing gimmick employed by developers, but is requesting signed blank cheques proper?

Someone handling the cheque may fill in an amount too large to be drawn from the buyer's account.

A dishonoured cheque could lead to additional bank charges or even suspicions of criminal deception.

So, is there really a need to collect the cheques given that the potential buyer can back out?

The Government wants to keep the property prices stable and to promote fair and open markets.

Perhaps it should look into the marketing and selling practices of private home developers.

Are buyers given sufficient time and information to consider the purchase before signing the OTP during the VIP preview?

The prices of all available units are also often not available to the buyers.

I think that the full price information of the available units should be made available to buyers before balloting.

This would allow buyers to compare prices of available units and those in other projects to make an informed decision.

Ng Xian Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Is collecting signed blank cheques from potential home buyers proper?'. Print Edition | Subscribe