Four things to note when engaging property agents and tips to protect yourself against scams by fake agents

Four things you need to note when engaging a property agent

Mar 2022 - 3 min read 

Visit the CEA Public Register to check your agent’s registration status and past property transactions

All property agents in Singapore must be registered with the CEA through a licensed property agency. Each registered property agent has a unique CEA registration number, e.g. R123456A. 

It is an offence for any individual to carry out estate agency work without valid registration. 

Before engaging a property agent, visit the online Public Register to verify:

  • If the agent has a valid registration,
  • All residential property transactions they have closed within the last two years, and which parties they represented, 
  • The agent’s industry accolades and awards, and, 
  • If the agent had any disciplinary records within the last two years.
The Public Register and transaction records will help you make an informed decision on which property agent to engage for your property transactions.

The information in the Public Register can also help you to verify the following details of an agent, which are required to be listed in their property advertisements#:
  • Property agent’s name, CEA registration number and phone number
  • Property agency’s name and license number
#For newspaper classified advertisements and phone text advertising, only the property agent’s name (in full or abbreviated) and phone number are required to be stated.
The absence of or failure to verify one or more of the above details could be an indication that the advertisement is not placed by a bona fide agent registered with CEA.  
Check the Public Register and transaction records to help you make an informed decision on which property agent to engage for your property transactions.

Protect yourself against scams

Recently, there have been scams involving individuals posing as property agents who place fake property advertisements on property listing platforms. When contacted by members of the public looking to view the property, these scammers ask for a deposit to secure a viewing appointment, and subsequently abscond with the money. 

Please note that you do not need to pay fees to secure a viewing appointment. 

We encourage you to check the property agent’s details in the property listing against the CEA Public Register to verify that the property agent is registered with CEA. You can do so by searching for the property agent on the CEA Public Register using the advertised phone number. If the search does not lead to a property agent’s profile page, it means that the phone number is not registered with CEA by any property agent, and could be an indication that the advertisement is a scam. If you believe that you may have been a victim of a scam, please file a police report. ​

Use the standard contract templates for your property transactions

To protect your interests, use the standard contract templates for your sale and purchase, as well as rental residential property transactions.

Here are the key benefits of using the available templates:

  • The templates establish a common standard that is fair to all parties in the transaction.
  • The templates offer room for flexibility by allowing parties to add and vary terms in the annexes.
  • First time users are made aware of non-standard terms in the process.
  • The templates provide clarity in disclosure requirements by the agent if a conflict of interest arises.
  • Agent commission will be clearly stated at the beginning, leaving little room for dispute later.

Agents cannot dual represent

A property agent can only act for one party in a property transaction. In other words, an agent cannot represent and collect commission fees from both buyer and seller, or both tenant and landlord, in the same property transaction. 

If the agent does so, it will be considered as dual representation and is an offence under the Estate Agents Act.

However, your agent can help the other party with the paperwork as long as they have obtained your consent. It must also be clear to all involved that your agent is not acting for the other party. Similarly, your agent cannot collect a fee from the other party.

Agents should not handle monies related to property transactions

When it comes to monies related to your property transaction – be it a sale and purchase, or a rental transaction – it is best to handle the money yourself. In fact, it is illegal for property agents to handle certain monies related to property transactions. 

You should pay the payee directly and do not pass the payment to a third party.

We also encourage that you protect yourself and prevent disputes by using verifiable payment modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers when making payments.


Information accurate as at 11 March 2022

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