July 2023 - 4 min read
This case study covers the conviction of a real estate salesperson (RES), Tay Wai Leong (“Tay”) who failed to co-broke with another RES in the sale of a property and advertised the property with a different address. In this case study, we review his actions and why he was convicted for breaching the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care (CEPCC) under the First Schedule of the Estate Agents (Estate Agency Work) Regulations 2010, by a CEA Disciplinary Committee.
Avoiding contact with co-broke RES and giving a false property location
On 12 February 2021, Tay received a message from RES A, who was representing a keen buyer (“B”) for a property (“the property”) which Tay advertised for the seller. RES A requested for a viewing to be arranged the next day and asked if Tay would be interested in co-broking the deal. Tay did not respond directly to the question on co-broking but indicated that he would check with the seller about the viewing.
On the same day, B contacted Tay directly about another property he had advertised which was in the same vicinity of the property. Tay told B that the two properties were actually the same. When B asked why the location of the advertised property differed from its actual location, Tay claimed that the listing portal had generated a wrong address for the property when in fact, Tay had deliberately entered an incorrect postal code of the property in his advertisement. B then told Tay that she had already approached RES A to arrange for a viewing for the property. Tay told B that he would “sort the matter out” with RES A. Thereafter, B informed RES A about her phone conversation with Tay. RES A immediately messaged Tay to inform that B was her buyer client who had spoken to Tay about the property. Tay did not reply to RES A’s message.
The next day, on 13 February 2021, B messaged Tay informing that she had viewed the exterior of the property and would like to view the interior. RES A followed up with another message to Tay, asking for an update on her earlier request for property viewing. Tay told RES A that B had called him last night about the property and he was waiting for a response from the seller about the viewing. Later that day, the seller told Tay that the property would be available for viewing at 5.00pm, and Tay only informed B but not RES A.
The viewing took place on 13 February 2021 at 5.00pm between Tay and B. After the viewing, B told Tay that she might make an offer for the property and asked him to let RES A know that she had seen the property with him. Tay said he would “sort the matter out” with RES A. The next day, RES A messaged Tay to ask for an update on her request to view the property, but Tay did not reply to her.
On 15 February 2021, Tay met B for a second viewing of the property which Tay did not inform RES A about. After this viewing, B told Tay that she would like to make an offer for the property. On the same evening, RES A called and messaged Tay but he did not respond.
As Tay had not responded to her, RES A messaged B the same evening asking if she could approach another RES who had also advertised the same property to arrange for a viewing on B’s behalf. B was surprised and called Tay to ask why he did not inform RES A about the two viewings. She also told Tay that RES A “deserved something” if the deal went through. Tay repeated to B that he would sort things out with RES A. B later informed RES A of her conversation with Tay.
Upon payment of the option fee for the property on 18 February 2021, B reminded Tay that RES A “deserved something” for the property transaction. B then updated RES A about her obtaining the option for the purchase of the property.
Commitments not kept
On 20 February 2021, RES A managed to reach Tay through a phone call. During the call, Tay told RES A that he considered B to be a direct buyer who had approached him to enquire about the property and no co-broking was involved. When RES A pointed out that Tay had deliberately ignored her calls and messages before the option fee was paid by B, Tay told her that he would discuss with his KEO to work out paying something to RES A “out of goodwill” and keep her informed.
On 5 March 2021, B attempted to mediate on RES A’s behalf by messaging Tay and asking him to meet up with her and RES A to resolve the matter. However, Tay replied that he was busy and unable to meet. Tay tried contacting RES A on 7 March 2021 but was unsuccessful, and he did not attempt to contact RES A again. On 8 July 2021, RES A lodged a complaint against Tay with CEA.
Convicted on three charges by a CEA Disciplinary Committee
Tay was convicted and sentenced to a $14,000 fine and 7 months suspension by a CEA Disciplinary Committee for:
- Breach of Para 6(3) of the CEPCC for failing to act fairly and in a reasonable manner towards RES A by failing and/or refusing to co-broke in the sale of the property;
- Breach of Para 6(3) of the CEPCC for failing to act fairly and in a reasonable manner towards another RES by failing to discuss with his KEO to work out some remuneration for RES A for her role in the sale of the property despite representing to RES A that he would do so; and
- Breach of Para 12(4)(a) of the CEPCC for causing an advertisement to be made which contained information that was false and/or inaccurate by indicating an untrue postal code in the advertisement for the property.
By Tan Hong Boon
Treasurer, Singapore Estate Agents Association
It is clear to all RESs representing a property seller that CEA requires them to be open to co-broking opportunities in the interest of the seller. Failure or refusal to co-broke is a serious disciplinary breach and undermines the professionalism of the real estate agency industry.
Tay, while acknowledging through B that he was aware that RES A was representing B, repeatedly avoided communicating with RES A on the co-broking arrangement. He also failed to update RES A on the status of the property viewings with B even when he was told by B to do so.
Given the fact B told Tay that RES A was representing her and had introduced to the property to her, Tay should have recognised RES A’s role as a co-broke RES instead of claiming that B was his direct buyer. Tay also should have been more open and offer a commission sharing arrangement with RES A, to avoid all subsequent misunderstanding and disagreement. In addition, Tay had misled B by his inaccurate property listing which resulted in the latter contacting him and giving him the opportunity to deal with B directly on the property transaction.
Tay should also have acted with integrity to honour what he had told B that he would “sort out the (co-broking) matter with RES A” instead of turning back on his words later because he did not consider it to be a co-broke transaction. The actions of Tay, especially his lies to B and what he had done towards RES A, has damaged the reputation and integrity of the industry.
Information accurate as at 14 July 2023