Toh Yew Hock, 52, a property agent from Propnex Realty was jailed for 23 weeks and fined $11,000 for dual representation after he collected commission from both the seller and buyer in a HDB flat resale transaction.
On 11 Jun 2018, the HDB valuation report indicated that the flat was valued at $760,000 although the selling price on the option to purchase (OTP) was $820,000. So there was a cash over valuation (COV) of $60,000 that the buyer must pay in order to complete the HDB resale transaction.
However, the Propnex agent lied to the seller that the buyer will not exercise the OTP as the COV was too high. Hence, Toh advised the seller to reduce the selling price to $790,000 which was $30,000 less than the official price on the OTP.
As the seller had paid an option fee for the next property, he did not have the luxury of time to find another buyer.
Although the seller requested for a reissue of a new OTP to reflect the new selling price, Toh brushed it off and warned him that it would impede the sales process and might result in the buyer having insufficient time to exercise the OTP before the 21 days option period.
On 15 Jun 2018, Toh misappropriated the $4,000 option exercise fee by convincing the buyer to issue a cash cheque instead of a crossed cheque payable to the seller's name.
Toh from Propnex lied that the buyer had asked for a waiver of the S$4,000 and a "refund" of S$10,000. He also lied that the buyer demanded that the seller pay for the buyer's one percent commission of S$8,200.
The offences came to light on 18 Aug 2018 during an inspection of the HDB flat as Toh turned up late.
During his absence, the buyer and seller spoke about the sale and realized that they were both paying the agent commission to Toh Yew Hock. Moreover, the buyer found out that the seller did not receive the exercise fee of $4,000.
As a result, the buyer and seller lodged a complaint to CEA and PropNex.
Toh had no alternative but to make full restitution of S$15,000 to the HDB buyer and S$4,000 to the seller. The Propnex agency also waived the agent's commission payable on the transaction.
Council for Estate Agency (CEA) would like to remind consumers that a property agent cannot represent and collect commission fees from both the buyer and seller, or tenant and landlord, in the same property transaction.
After the transaction has been completed, the commission must be paid to the property agency via cheque or online banking.
Property agents are forbidden to handle transaction money, such as the option fee or rental deposit.