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Selling HDB, private property: Should you engage a relative or friend as your agent?

Ask The Property Expert: What are the pros and cons of having a relative or friend as a property agent?

Senior woman real estate sales agent talking to a young Asian couple, illustrating a story on engaging a relative or friend as a property agent to sell your HDB or private home.
When selling your HDB or private property, should you engage a relative or friend as your property agent? (Kannika Paison via Getty Images)

Question:

You're selling your HDB flat or private property. Should you enlist a relative or friend as your agent to sell your home?

Answer:

Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong with engaging a relative or friend as your property agent when it comes to selling a home. It can be a great option that offers several advantages. Equally, there may be some drawbacks.

The decision ultimately boils down to your personal preferences and comfort level. While some may feel at ease working with someone they have a close relationship with, others might prefer maintaining a professional distance in their real estate transactions and finances.

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Propseller's Inside Sales team lead Jesslyn Yap, said, "Having a relative or friend as your agent can present several advantages. An established level of trust and understanding between you and the agent can lead to smoother communication, potentially facilitating a better grasp of your specific needs and preferences."

It's important to approach this decision with a balanced perspective. "Mixing personal relationships with business transactions can sometimes lead to complications, particularly if conflicts arise during the negotiation or decision-making process. It's crucial that your relationship can handle such potential pressures or disappointments, such as when the property is not selling," she added. "Once you commit to selling with a friend or relative, offering constructive criticism or openly critiquing their performance may become challenging, which could negatively affect both your relationship and outcome."

How can you have a successful partnership with your property agent?

To ensure a successful partnership with any property agent, open and honest communication is key, said Yap. "Have a candid conversation about your property plans and discuss your expectations for the selling process. Ensure that your agent understands your goals and is willing to put in the effort to meet them," she said.

"Even when choosing a friend or relative as your agent, it's crucial to assess their capability to handle the complexities of a real estate transaction effectively. They need to demonstrate their proficiency in handling various scenarios, show strong communication skills, and ensure a quick response rate to both you and potential buyers," she shared. "Moreover, an agent should have a comprehensive understanding of the neighbourhood and the ability to employ effective marketing strategies to attract potential buyers."

For instance, there are agents who know certain areas or regions of Singapore very well and may be considered an "expert" of the area. It may be advantageous to engage the services of these agents.

Once you commit to selling with a friend or relative, offering constructive criticism or openly critiquing their performance may become challenging, which could negatively affect both your relationship and outcome.Jesslyn Yap

Yap's company, Propseller, prides itself in having property agents who are "selected based on their exceptional track record, and have on average 11 years of experience". "Furthermore, the agents are backed by a highly experienced team of specialists who handle property marketing, photography, copywriting, valuation and several other complex tasks," the company said on its website.

To validate an agent's expertise, you can review their track record of past sales online – on a public register maintained by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA). "Additionally, asking them to share their current listings on real estate platforms can give you a better sense of their active engagement in the market," Yap advised.

What is the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)?

In Singapore, the CEA – a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development – is empowered to administer the regulatory framework for the real estate agency industry.

"In addition, CEA is committed to raise the professionalism of the real estate agency industry through collaborative efforts with the industry on professional development programmes and protect the interests of the consumers through targeted public education schemes," CEA said on its website.

How do you pick a property agent in Singapore?

All property agents in Singapore must be registered with CEA through a licensed property agency. Each registered property agent has a unique CEA registration number. It is an offence for any individual to carry out estate agency work without valid registration.

Before engaging an agent, you can visit the CEA public register to check your property agent's registration status and past property transactions. You will be able to verify:

  • If the agent has a valid registration;

  • The agent's name, CEA registration number and phone number;

  • The agency's name and licence number;

  • All residential property transactions the agent has 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.

Who else can help sell your property?

Ultimately, if you're unsure about engaging a relative or friend as your agent, consider hiring a professional real estate agent from a reputable agency. "Such professionals offer a wealth of experience, local market knowledge, and negotiation skills, which can be highly beneficial in achieving the best possible outcome for your property sale," Yap said.

You may also sell your property without the help of an agent in Singapore, though this process has its own set pros and cons.

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