To help prospective buyers make better informed decisions on overseas property purchases, Singapore’s Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) on Monday published an online consumer guide on its website.
Aptly called "Consumer Tips for Buying Foreign Properties", this is in response to a rise in the number of foreign properties being marketed in Singapore, CEA said in a statement.
The agency added that buyers should not rush in as purchasing property abroad can be complex and risky. Such deals may be subject to currency fluctuations and changes in foreign legal and regulatory frameworks, due to domestic politics or other factors.
The guide provides tips and advice on things to look out for, such as rules and restrictions on foreign property purchases and ownership, taxes payable and dispute resolution avenues. Buyers are also advised to understand the financial commitments required.
Meanwhile, industry experts have welcomed the guide. Alex Bellingham, Director (Head of Singapore Office) of IP Global, said its introduction will see more educated buyers entering the market. He noted that this move was anticipated, on the back of an increase in overseas buyers from Singapore in recent years.
Nicholas Mak, Executive Director of SLP International Property Consultants, described it as timely and relevant. “As the government is a regulatory body in this matter, the information they provide should be more balanced and neutral for consumers.”
Aside from consumers, real estate professionals can also tap on the "Practice Guidelines for Estate Agents and Salespersons Marketing Foreign Properties" that was released last Friday, which aims to guide them in marketing overseas properties.
Tricia Teo, Deputy Managing Director at SLP International Property Consultants, noted how it is good that CEA stepped in with some “dos” and “don’t’s” for the public’s knowledge, and she believes this will help to raise overall industry standards in the long term.
Teo said, “Unfortunately, (the) Singapore agency market is still not very developed to a professional level yet. A lot of agents do not know what they are selling even for local projects, let alone overseas developments. These overseas developments are the ones which encumbrances more technical knowledge pertaining to legal, finance and local market specific requirements. Without proper guidance, consumers can be easily misrepresented and henceforth make the wrong decisions.”
The guide provides details on the responsibilities of estate agents and the preparatory activities required of them when they are marketing overseas properties.
It also defines the responsibilities of agents. For example, they need to conduct due diligence on the foreign developer and the property before marketing it.