Questionable property ads popping up on social media

Public and private housing taken from Toa Payoh, on Jan 31, 2019.
Public and private housing taken from Toa Payoh, on Jan 31, 2019. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

When the Government implemented property cooling measures last July, individuals were cautioned against over-leveraging in property purchases.

Recently, Facebook has been flooded with property ads offering free seminars and free guides advocating owning "multiple properties with no money down", or "a condo on a $6k combined salary", or "buy 2 private properties without paying ABSD", among other examples.

There was a report that highlighted an unusual spike in the number of options-to-purchase (OTPs) being reissued in December (PropNex calls for easing of curbs for HDB upgraders, March 15).

A Credit Suisse report said two-thirds of options in last December's developer sales lapsed, noting that some developers were "continually reissuing OTPs to buyers upon expiry of a three-week validity period without any forfeiture of booking fees".

Before the situation gets out of hand, the authorities should take prompt action to stop shady schemes from taking root.

It is wrong for agents to talk owners into trading in their Housing Board homes for condo units when they cannot afford it.

Last July's cooling measures specified that buying a second private property entails a higher additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD).

It is irresponsible to coach agents and mislead buyers into believing that there are ways to avoid paying ABSD.

Tax evasion is a criminal offence punishable under the law.

Shady property get-rich-quick schemes are tarnishing the reputation of the real estate brokerage profession. It is unfair to agencies and agents not involved in promoting such schemes.

The schemes are totally against the mission of the Council for Estate Agencies to raise the professionalism of the industry and safeguard consumer interest.

Facebook is responsible for avoiding online misinformation and screening misleading and inappropriate ads, even if this may affect its advertising revenue.

Vina Ip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'Questionable property ads popping up on social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe