Unique serial number for each property proposed to prevent fake and multiple online listings

The proposal aims to tackle dummy listings, which are advertisements on online property portals that do not feature an actual property that is available for sale or rent. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Home seekers will soon no longer have to sift through dummy and duplicate property listings when looking for homes on property listing portals.

A unique serial number may be assigned to each property before it can be published on online portals to prevent multiple listings.

It is a solution jointly proposed by Singapore's five largest real estate agencies, property listing portals and key industry stakeholders, in an effort to streamline the property search experience for home seekers.

On Friday (Nov 5), Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How announced the formation of an Alliance for Action (AfA) on Accurate Property Listings.

It aims to tackle dummy listings, which are advertisements on online property portals that do not feature an actual property that is available for sale or rent. These fake listings could be used to phish for contacts or, in other scenarios, turn into rental or home purchase scams.

Meanwhile, duplicate listings are multiple advertisements of the same property, usually by different agents marketing the same property.

"This is a long-standing problem that consumers have often faced when searching for properties - and property agents, too, when they conduct property searches for their clients," said Mr Tan at the virtual SG Real Estate Agents Excellence Awards ceremony on Friday.

The AfA will be co-led by the Singapore Estate Agents Association (SEAA) and online portals PropertyGuru and 99.co.

Participating members include property agencies PropNex, ERA, OrangeTee & Tie and Huttons Asia and SRI, and property portal EdgeProp.

The initiative is supported by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), which regulates the real estate agency industry.

AfAs are private-public partnerships set up to tackle challenges and seize opportunities in specific sectors over six months.

The AfA has proposed a digital platform to conduct checks on the authenticity of a property listing, said CEA on Friday.

A unique serial number will be assigned to each property before it can be published on the listing portals.

A prototype digital platform is slated to be designed and built by the AfA by mid next year.

SEAA president Adam Wang said the elimination of dummy and duplicate advertisements will create a "positive user experience" for property searchers.

"Buyers and tenants will have the confidence that the properties marketed are by authorised property agents. This will reduce situations that cause buyers and tenants frustrations, such as when they encounter non-genuine listings," he said.

Mr Darius Cheung, chief executive of 99.co, said solving the issue of dummy and duplicate listings is also a win on the business front for property agencies and listing portals.

"Not only are fake listings annoying and dangerous for consumers, they are also a massive productivity sink for property agencies and portals. However, none of us can solve it alone which is why it remains unsolved despite a clear winning outcome," he said.

"By driving towards 100 per cent authenticated listings, we can greatly uplift consumer experience, agent productivity and the professionalism and trust in the estate agency industry."

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