Property agent fined and suspended for unethical and unprofessional conduct

Victor Kang22 Oct 2019

Judge gavel-crop

James Ngu was fined and suspended by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) for trying to negotiate for a higher commission for himself. 

Ngu Ping Chuan James Ethan, PropNex Realty Pte Ltd property agent, was fined $30,000 for three violations of the Council for Estate Agencies’ (CEA) Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care while representing a client in a condominium unit purchase.

The CEA also ordered a 12-month suspension of the agent’s CEA registration (as a property agent) to carry out estate agency work for each charge. Starting 16 October, the suspension periods will run concurrently.

So far, this is the highest sentence that a CEA Disciplinary Committee has issued against a property agent under disciplinary proceedings.

Around 2016, Ngu was engaged by his client to find a private property in the central or eastern part of Singapore. In March 2017, Ngu assisted his client to look at a condominium unit at the eastern part of Singapore, valued at $1.04 million.

Thereafter, Ngu told the seller’s agent that his client wanted to buy the property and then inquired about the commission payable to him.

The seller’s agent informed Ngu that the seller was willing to sell the property for $1.02 million, and to give Ngu a commission of one percent of the sale price. Ngu then negotiated for a 2.5 to three percent commission instead. Ngu did not tell his client of the seller’s $1.02 million offer.

Ngu later told the seller’s agent that his client’s offer now stood at $1.04 million and asked for a three percent commission. In reality, however, the client gave no such instructions.

After much negotiation between Ngu and the seller’s agent, the final offered purchase price for the property sat at $1.01 million, with Ngu being advised to collect commission from his own client.

On April 2017, Ngu advised his client to reject the offered price due to an alleged high price, when his real reason was because he failed to negotiate for a three percent commission of the sale price.

Later, the client directly inquired with the seller’s agent regarding the property’s availability and offered $1.04 million for it. The seller agreed then accepted the offer.

The client later learned that Ngu made a similar offer but with the condition that he get a three percent commission of the price.

Ngu’s acts caused the client to suffer a loss of around $20,000 to $30,000, which is the difference between the $1.04 million purchase price and the seller’s initial offer of $1.02 million which Ngu failed to reveal to his client.

Ngu pled guilty to charges of: failing to convey the seller’s offer to sell the condominium unit at a minimum price of $1.02 million to his client; continuing to act on behalf of his client and failing to declare in writing his conflict of interest in getting a co-broke commission; and failing to convey to his client a counter-offer to sell the property at the price of $1.01 million, and with his commission to be paid by his client.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

- beh
Oct 25, 2019
How when u was selling my flat I had buyer agents asking me if I pay commission when I was DIY without an agent. I have a feeling that when I said No ,The agents either dissuade or did not bring their clients to view the unit. Similarly when looking to purchase a new unit, buyers agents also ask me if I pay commission. I have suspicion that if answer is no. They will also advise seller against selling unit. So in scenarios like these I can report to cea?

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