Yaw Shin Leong: Who is he representing?

27 Dec

The party that takes on the cause of the workers and stands against the hegemonic might of the MIW is somehow getting its priorities wrong; or at least one of its MP. Workers’ Party’s Yaw Shin Leong has put up on his blog a series of informal dialogues which he is leading with a group of about 30 real estate agents who are unhappy with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

The CEA was established in Oct 2010 to regulate the real estate industry (especially rogue real estate agents) and protect the consumer from unfair business practices as property transactions are often very expensive and can be complicated. Before the CEA, there was no licensing of real estate agents and the industry had very low barriers of entry leading to many agents who are not only uncommitted to their trade but also devised various means to extract unfair commission and fees from unsuspecting consumers, property owners and even banks.

I bought my first house, a re-sale HDB directly from a seller and we did not engage any agents on both sides. It was pretty neat and clean as we decided on an agreeable price rather quickly although we have not met previously. HDB assisted in us completing the transaction and while it was complicated at first, it was not rocket science, you just needed some effort. Most of all, it saved buyer and seller a combined agent commission fees of $10K on a $350K apartment that is leasehold in the first place!

NOW Mr Yaw and his group of real estate agents is proposing that the CEA ban individual seller and buyer from any property transaction.

On Yaw’s blog: The Council should not permit sellers, buyers, landlord and tenants to transact any property deals themselves, as they are not trained; they do not attend classes; they do not sit the examinations such as Common Examination for Housing Agents(CEHA), Common Examination for Salespersons(CES) etc, and they are not registered with the Council. Therefore, the seller, buyers, landlord and tenants are not licenced to transact any deal with regards to property transactions. If a seller who is not licenced, sells his property to a buyer, essentially, the buyer is not protected, he is not being served by a licence agent.

IMHO, this is the most ridiculous of suggestions, it is anti-consumer and gives an unfair unending meal ticket to real estate agents. If seller and buyer are known to one another, relatives etc, they can just settle the deal at HDB or engage a conveyance lawyer in the case of a private property. Buyers, like me, who approached the seller directly can currently settle the transactions ourselves. If the seller is hard on cash, such a rule would force him to part with more cash and worsen his financial position. Why should a fee be paid to the property agent when he/she had made no introductory at all?? This also increases the cost of business as the property agent would get a cut of every rental property deals. Ultimately, such a suggestion is most damaging to consumer interest, dampens business environment, and basically creates a monopoly for very very small segment of interested persons.

Another ridiculous suggestion found in Mr Yaw’s blog states that real estate agent must be compensated half of the deposit forfeited by the seller if the deal is aborted. Currently, compensation to agents for aborted deals are non-obligatory.

On Yaw’s blog: As stated in Form 1-Estate Agency Agreement for the Sale of Residential Property and Form 3-Estate Agency Agreement for the Lease of Residential Property by a Landlord. Sellers and landlords are not obligated to pay commission to the real estate agents if the sale and the leasing of the property fall through. The real estate agents must be compensated half of the deposit that is forfeited by the sellers and the landlords when deals are aborted, as the real estate agents have successfully secured the deals, and cost spent in marketing the property.

The question of compensation should be a private arrangement open for negotiation between interested parties. If the agent did not perform his role adequately and cause the deal to fall through, why should he/she be compensated half the deposit?? The agent should stipulate in his contract with the seller that any marketing costs should be borne by the seller if the deal does not eventually succeed. Stipulating that real estate agents must be compensated half the deposit of any fallen through deal again grants them an unfair meal ticket.

Mr Yaw together with his group of real estate agents also proposed that the annual license fee for real estate agents imposed by the CEA be amended to a one-off payment.

On Yaw’s blog: The Council imposes an annual licence fee of $246.10 including GST should be amended to a one-off license fee, as agents are paying fees for courses, examination as well as the yearly Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The fees of these courses, examination and CPD amount to more than $500. Currently, if a new agent obtains the relevant certification, say in October 2011, upon registration with CEA, he has to fulfill the full amount of $246.10 for the entire year of 2011. Come January 2012, which is just 3 months after his registration on October 2011, the same agent has to fulfill another payment of $246.10 for the entire 2012. The new agent should only make a full payment of $246.10 as a one-off licence fee regardless the date of registration.

Next thing we know, Yaw would be joining pubs, karaoke and coffeeshops owners asking the government to make their entertainment and liquor licenses one-time payment also. This is part of their business costs and real estate agents should acknowledge it. Real estate agents should bear part of the costs of licensing, enforcement and administration of CEA as they are the ones that benefit from a well-regulated industry. If the CEA license fee is only one-time payment then the long-term buget of the CEA would be borne by taxpayers!!

Is Mr Yaw telling us that real estate agents who earned ten of thousands a year cannot afford a few hundred in licensing fees. If these real estate agents don’t earn a decent salary annually then perhaps they can consider changing jobs. The government can consider waiving the annual license fee if the economy is really bad and there is a drastic drop in volume of property transacted.

There are many other points worth countering in Mr Yaw’s suggestions but I won’t do them here (maybe he would be write to me if he is interested…haha). Is Mr Yaw still in the GE mode where he is opposing zheng hu for the sake of opposing?? Consumers now have more protection with the CEA established as it provides a platform for aggrieved consumers to lodge a complain, meditations to be carried out and rogue real estate agents turfed out. Workers’ Party and Mr Yaw should concentrate on fighting for everyday Singaporeans and the interest of normal consumers rather than the 30-odd real estate agents. And maybe one way of really helping the 30-odd real estate agents would be keeping the dialogue out of blogosphere and addressing it directly with the relevant interested parties together with perhaps the Institute of Estate Agents, a professional body of real estate agents. 30-odd agents out of the tens of thousands in Singapore is really a tiny tiny dot in the little red dot.

16 Responses to “Yaw Shin Leong: Who is he representing?”

  1. Idiot December 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    Pls la hor…. Everyone know whats his intentions… He wants all real estate agents to join WP… tell him go fly kite…. Low Thia Kang is a f*cking developer and refuse to have an office…. Stop dirtying singapore politics with all your ill intentions la WP..

  2. Smartypants December 29, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    wow ur name idiot..no wonder make stupid comment

    • nick January 3, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      well said,i think plp like these whiners got very shallow understanding and KPKP alot.shld just stay in north korea and have some taste of hardships.. v typical sporean,only think of themselves(consumers) but don get the macro picture of things..

  3. handsome December 29, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    who cares about worker’s party? *pui*

  4. =) December 29, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    This article abit unfair .

  5. unbrandedbreadnbutter December 29, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    wah i getting so many weird comments but no arguments…hahaha…PAP and WP IB battle ground

  6. unbrandedbreadnbutter December 29, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    maybe best Mr YSL comes out and says it himself =)

  7. Andrew December 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Y not u go for the course and see for urself…. then u would understand….. anyway, if you had a good agent, you would have gotten a better / cheaper price for your flat…

  8. sally December 30, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I bought my hdb resale direct from the seller for 10K above valuation in late 2008. I don’t think an agent would have gotten me much lower and I still had to pay the agent commission. The world economy is moving the consumer towards source with technologies like internet and social media. Middle men and agents would find it harder to charge a fee as consumers get more educated.

  9. reservist_cpl December 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    I hope that everyone here will not make venomous comments about Mr Yaw Shin Leong. Instead, send a personal email to him to ask him to withdraw those proposals which you find to be inappropriate. I believe that he will listen if there is a large enough public outcry against some of these suggestions. His email is available from the WP website.

  10. micecream December 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    reservist cpl is also a troll wad, always post on hwz

    Firstly, does property agents and agencies protect your rights? No, all agencies put their agents under “sole proprietorship” but yet not registered with ACRA as a sole proprietor. The agencies are not liable for their agents action (Then why hell do they get a cut from their agents? Agents are not considered ‘Employees’ as well)

    2nd – It doesn’t take rocket science to market a property. Mainly just retail know-how. Do real estate agents do conveyancing? No! Nothing! They merely match a buyer and seller. Do they do up individual contracts even when it requires? No! They use ‘standard forms’. Everything is done by the lawyer. Do they get you the best loans and all the other admin to closing the deal? Tell me specificially what tradeskills they have? They don’t do valuation, don’t do contracts…

    3. The “deposit” forfeited or option(to purchase), is for time to reserve the property off the market for the buyer. The agent did not close the sale, the agent also did not lose out anything. by “reserving” If the agent have spent no cost on marketing, does it mean that they need not take any commission?

    Already the CEA is formed to protect a niche group which have basically not much know-how. And now you give them even more unfair advantage?

    Seriously, 10k or 20k for a few weeks worth (and then only a few hours per week on viewing), they are grossly overpaid

  11. YSL just wants attention December 31, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Yaw Shin Leong is just a glamoring for attention. I dunno y he wants to take side with unscrupulous real estate agents. So many ppl were conned by real estate agents. But y didnt ysl speak up?

  12. Andrew December 31, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    ICECREAM, there are agents that protect the clients rights, the agent that does transactions for me is one of the best….. he gets me the lowest price for a property and when he sells he brings me the best offer…. FYI, I pay him 3% if he surpasses the price I am asking for. The cost, which the agent bears, can be quite a pretty penny. Agents do get sued and are liable if they screw up. Agents work like brokers, they get a cut / commission for the transaction. There are many examples of “‘sole proprietorship” but yet not registered with ACRA as a sole proprietor” if you look harder.

    My agent does all my paper work for me, I just have to read, sign and the deal is done. He arranges everything for me, viewings, marketing, telling me what’s wrong with the place and sharing with me his experiences and knowledge. You have no idea what effort it takes to complete a transaction, you can do it yourself of cause, but look when you are negotiating a deal paying this 1-2% (normally) is small when you get much more than your asking price.

    The CEA was formed not to protect the agents, but the consumer; there is no advantage for the agents.

    IMHO the good agents are not overpaid; they are paid for the effort they put in. The amount of money he saves me is more than his commission. Give you an example, few years back I bought a unit from someone who represented himself, I got the unit for less than 50K than the actual worth, we thought it was going for. The seller saved 10k but ended up losing 40K

    I am not saying that there are no unscrupulous real estate agents, I have haerd of many, but there are some which are good.

    FYI, I am not an agent, if you guys are wondering, I work in finance, just wanted to share with you my experiences.

  13. Robert Teh December 31, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Singapore is becoming a controlled society with all kinds of laws and regulations some being conceived with fear mongering to solve one kind of problems or another. Yes, we want to avoid welfarism and promote good leadership but our over-hyping on such ideas has resulted in our becoming a strong one-party and one-man autocracy creating more serious problem like legalised corruption and cronyism as witnessed in the latest SMRT saga. Today, we have to have laws to protect public interests with control on real estate agents because of some complaints of malpractices. But what have happened to our obsessive laws on controls of maids and security guards? Are we having better maids or guards because of their better English? In the mean time, at the top of society, leaders enjoy freedom to manipulate laws with writing of their own pay cheques and influx of foreigners that sacrifice people’s interests and wellbeing. Think creative for the sake of building a more creative society.
    Yes, it is agreed that we need laws and regulations but overly hyped laws and regulations are just as bad. We need real estate agents to behave with proper professionalism and a simple set of pro-honesty and pro-integrity rules but please do not overreact to the point that we will prevent the individual houseowners who may be more experienced and professional in their own individual way to do better in securing their own sales or purchases for one/two of his own properties. We can afford some give and take in life to deviate from the norm without screaming our heads to have one-hundred percent control over all matters to ad nausem.

  14. What are you ranting about ?? January 1, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    I find the question funny and ridiculous. Society has so many different groups of people and so many different issues. As MP, he is free to look into each issue at different times. PAP MPs do it as well and the issues reperesented has a broad range like Cats Welfare, Cemetery Memories, Union Workers, Government Link Businesses etc. No politician and party represent only workers.

    Mr Yaw is gathering feedback from a particular group of industry, It could have been any industry. I see Nothing WRONG. I have seen Russian, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnamese, Thailand, Nepalese housing agents in Singapore. So what is the rant ??


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