Why It Matters

A boost for the property sector

For many Singaporeans, a home will be one of the most expensive things they will ever buy.

With such high stakes involved, it is good that the Government is taking steps to make the process quicker and more transparent.

To transform the property transactions sector, the authorities said last Thursday that they are looking to develop standardised, digital contracts - such as for sales or resale transactions - by the early 2020s. Currently, different firms have their own contracts, and the time wasted is multiplied when other vendors in the value chains - lawyers, for example - have to verify the data. A standard contract leaves time for vendors to focus on higher-value work.

The performance of all 28,000 property agents here, as reviewed by those who engaged them, will be made public. It will include the price and location of the property deals they closed.

This review initiative will be implemented in two phases, starting with Housing Board transactions from the end of this year, and private residential transactions from the end of next year.

One upside is that customers can shop around for agents who know an area well, so they can purchase property that best suits their needs. Another is that it will spur agents to be more professional.

Later this year, property firms will also have access to some related data which lets them automate time-consuming administrative processes such as checks for whether a potential foreign tenant has a valid work pass in Singapore.

Now, property agents have to conduct multiple searches across various government websites.

But before the changes are rolled out, property firms and the authorities must figure out how to balance privacy with having enough information for others to make a considered decision. Some sellers may not wish to publicise what they sold their properties for. Another concern is data security.

Once ironed out, property transactions will likely be a lot smoother.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'A boost for the property sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe