Two property agents fined for marketing empty BTO flats that didn’t meet 5-year MOP rule

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SINGAPORE – Two property agents have been fined for marketing Build-To-Order (BTO) flats that did not fulfill their five-year minimum occupation period (MOP).

Ms Christina Au was on Jan 18 fined $1,000 and censured for her involvement in marketing an HDB flat in Yishun Street 51, while Ms Isabelle Loo was on Tuesday fined $500 and censured for marketing a flat in 110A Depot Road, based on disciplinary actions detailed in a public register of estate agents.

In a statement to The Straits Times on Tuesday, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) said two agents had breached the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care for failing to comply with the regulations that apply to Housing Board flats. It did not name the agents or the agencies they work for.

The code sets the performance standard required of estate agents and salespersons when carrying out estate agency work, and in their dealings with clients and the public.

Based on the public register on the CEA website, the two agents are from ERA Realty Network.

According to a disciplinary note on the register, Ms Au had tried to facilitate the resale of the Yishun flat despite knowing that the sellers had not physically occupied it and did not fulfil the MOP.

Meanwhile, Ms Loo had conducted viewings of the Depot Road flat for prospective buyers, even though the owners were not eligible to sell the flat on the open market at the time. This is because they had “not physically occupied the flat for the duration of the MOP”, based on the register.

When contacted, Ms Au and Ms Loo declined comment.

ERA Singapore key executive officer Eugene Lim said it was very unfortunate that these two incidents had occurred. “We have taken this opportunity to reinforce (our agents’) understanding of this.”

CEA told ST that two other agents, who had marketed seemingly vacant HDB flats in Bukit Batok East Avenue 6 and Henderson Road, were found to have not breached the code.

In December 2022, ST reported on several unrenovated BTO flats that appeared to have never been lived in being put up for sale on property listing portals.

This came after media outlet Mothership reported that a five-room HDB flat in Yishun Street 51 was allegedly left vacant for eight years, as the buyers had moved into their family’s landed property. Ms Au had listed it on PropertyGuru with an asking price of $690,000.

ST later reported on a listing for a three-room flat in 110A Depot Road, which Ms Loo described as “never stayed in before, brand new”, with an asking price of $650,000. At the time, the unit was just over five years old.

The listing for a four-room unit in 292B Bukit Batok East Avenue 6 showed photos of an empty kitchen and bedroom, and a toilet bowl wrapped in plastic. The agent who listed the unit had described it as a “blank canvas”. The unit, which reached its MOP in 2022, had an asking price of $688,888.

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