The Council For Estate Agencies' (CEA) website is something homeowners click over to when they want to verify their property agent's licence. Starting in January, you can still do that – in addition to also checking your property agent’s record of HDB resales as well.
WHAT SORT OF INFORMATION CAN WE SEE?
The CEA Public Register will now display details of completed HDB resale transactions when you search for a property agent. This includes information on the transaction dates, the location of the flat, and who the agent represented (buyer or seller). This certainly solves the problem home buyers used to face: Access to property agents’ sales history.
However, the information will only date back to the last 24 months. If you need older information, you’ll need to sift through the Singapore government’s public data site.
The CEA is continuing to develop the site; later this year, it will also include details of successful rental transactions as well as private property transactions.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE LOOKING FOR?
These are the three main things to look for when you're at the CEA website:
1. How active the property agent has been
A property agent can be inactive for two years before rejoining the industry. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – it is common for agents to leave the industry, especially when market-cooling measures kick in, and return when the market recovers.
But if you prefer an agent who has been active and in touch with the market, find someone without long breaks in his track record. Also, if a property agent has been actively closing deals even during the “bad” years, that’s often a sign that they’re true, lifelong career professionals.
2. The type of housing the property agent specialises in
For now, all you can see are resale flat transactions. But once the system is ready in the second half of this year, you’ll also be able to see rental and private property transactions.
This clues you in on whether the property agent has relevant experience, rather than just experience. For example, some agents – such as relocation experts – deal almost exclusively with helping landlords find tenants, or vice versa. Some may even go years without helping anyone buy or sell a house. If you’re looking to sell, they may not be your top choice but they definitely are if you’re struggling with a vacant asset.
3. The property agent’s neighbourhood of choice
You should take note of where a property agent closes his deals. We know that size-wise, Singapore’s the geographical equivalent of a pimple on an elephant’s back but agents still need hyper-local knowledge.
For example, you want a property agent who can tell you that a particular block is problematic because a teenage gang hangs around the void deck. It’s this in-depth knowledge that makes a property agent useful, so check that the property agent has a lot of dealings in the relevant neighbourhood.
GOOGLE THE PROPERTY AGENT’S NAME, AND THE VARIOUS TRANSACTIONS
This is a simple step that many first-time home buyers and sellers forget. Google the agent (and the various transactions he's closed by address) to pull up news of outstanding performance, problematic transactions, or other such details.
For example, a search might reveal that a property agent is the person behind a million-dollar flat sale a few years ago. Or it might reveal complaints about serious problems with a property, which doesn’t speak well for the property agent who represented the buyer.
Remember, a 10-minute search can prevent decades of rage and disappointment after you buy or sell your property.
This article first appeared on 99.co.