Property agent FAQs: Commissions are not fixed

This is the first of a three-part series where the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) answers questions about property transactions that involve property agents.

Q I intend to sell my flat. Do I need to hire an agent? Are agent commissions fixed?

A It is not a must to hire a property agent. You can sell your flat on your own if you are familiar with the processes and regulations.

If you intend to hire an agent, check that he is registered with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

It is an offence for someone to carry out estate agency work without a valid registration.

An unregistered agent may not know the laws and procedures surrounding property transactions. They could mishandle your transaction, resulting in delays or, worse, heavy financial losses.

You can verify if an individual is a registered agent via CEA's Public Register

As for commissions, they are determined by market forces and are not fixed. Compare the services offered by different agents and negotiate the commission amount accordingly. You should also confirm if goods and services tax (GST) is included.

Once you have agreed on the commission amount with your agent, indicate the amount in CEA's prescribed Estate Agency Agreement.

This agreement is a binding contract between you and your agent and protects both your interests.

Apart from the commission amount, the agreement also stipulates the agent's duties and requires the agent to declare if there is any conflict of interest. You can download the agreement templates from CEA's website.

Your agent can represent only you in the transaction. He cannot concurrently represent the buyer.

He should assist you in negotiations and provide updates on all offers and proposals promptly. He should also explain the relevant documents and forms to you.

After you have sold your flat, pay the commission to your agent's company, not the agent.

As far as possible, use verifiable payment modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers.

Visit www.cea.gov.sg for more tips on working effectively with a property agent.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Commissions are not fixed'. Print Edition | Subscribe