THREE women died in a bloody rampage - their blood splattered and bodies strewn in a five-room flat in Yishun.
Question: Would you buy this flat if it were for sale?
The women, all Chinese nationals, were stabbed to death. Another was found dead at the foot of the block.
The scene was grisly, the crime the talk of the town and the subject of a court case.
Chances are, few would knowingly take over the flat if it were on the market.
But what if you did not know? Would ignorance be bliss? Or would you rather know?
Tragedies such as the Yishun murders raise the poser: Are property agents obliged to reveal the history of the flat to potential buyers?
One house-hunter bought a Geylang HDB flat with a particularly gruesome past - blissfully ignorant of its history.
It was where Chinese national Liu Hong Mei, 22, was chopped into seven parts. The parts were then dumped in the Kallang and Singapore rivers in 2005.
The murderer, former factory supervisor Leong Siew Chor, was hanged for his crime last November.
The new owner of the four-room flat, who didn't want to be named, only found out about the flat's history from this reporter.
When The New Paper visited the flat last month, the owner was not at home.
Her sister-in-law, Ms Vidya Vedam, 28, who had moved in with the family about three months ago, was shocked to learn that she's been living in a flat that was the scene of a murder.
Said Ms Vedam:'What?A murder was committed here? When did it happen? What happened? This is the first time I am hearing this.'
The owner had bought the flat for about $330,000 earlier this year. That was about the market rate for such a flat.
After regaining her composure, Ms Vedam thought about how she has often felt uneasy about being in that flat.
'I have not seen anything, but now that you've mentioned it, I've sensed some presence before.
'I do prayers and all that. So I'm not scared,' she added after a pause.
The flat was brightly-lit and sparsely furnished.
There was a picture of Indian spiritual leader Sai Babaon one of the tables.
The owner said she met the flat's then owner, a woman, at the HDB office where they did the paperwork.
The owner said: 'When I first viewed the place, I didn't meet her (past owner). The flat was empty.
'And the owner claimed through the housing agent that she wasn't willing to sell the place, and wanted more cash for it. I paid the market price for this place.
'I am happy living here and I don't want to know about the past.'
She said her agent didn't tell her about the flat's history.
Are agents duty-bound to tell buyers about a property's history in such cases?
HSR Property Group's executive director Mr Eric Cheng, who trains over 8,500 agents, maintained that it is the fiduciary duty of the agent to tell the buyer about the history of the property, even if it has a sordid past. He said: 'If the agent knows about the property's history, it is his responsibility to tell the buyer. I always advise my agents to tell. It doesn't bode well for the agent both professionally and ethically to hide the secret.
'Anyway, how long can the secret hold? The neighbours will talk about it soon enough.'
He recalled selling a three-room flat in which a family had committed suicide three years ago.
It took him about four months to sell it, longer than the average two months-plus it takes to make a sale.
Said Mr Cheng: 'I received five to six offers for the place but all of them rejected it after I told them about its history. Some even got quite upset and even asked why I didn't tell them earlier.
'I usually tell the prospective buyers when we visit the unit because there may be other factors that may be favourable to the place aside from the history.'
He finally sold the unit for $175,000 to a single Christian man who didn't mind its history.
He said he didn't receive any commission from this sale for pro bono reasons.
PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail, however, said agents are not obliged to reveal the history of the property. But if the buyer specifically asks the question, the agents have to tell if they know about it.
He said: 'The buyer can take this agent to task if the agent lies. The seller's agent usually won't volunteer this information because you're representing the seller so how will you be able to sell the place?
'The agent isn't looking after his (the seller's) interest and it isn't the requirement of the agent.
'But buyers can ask the agents to ask if any mishaps have happened in the property. Buyers should also do their own checks.'
Talk to neighbours
How can buyers check? Ask the agent about the flat's history, talk to neighbours or do online searches about the place.
Mr Cheng advised: 'When you walk into the unit, check out for the tell-tale signs. Has the property been empty for years? Is there any furniture inside? Why is there a fresh coat of paint?
'If you have any doubts, don't be afraid to ask your agent questions. After all, you're going to live there for at least five years.'
For bargain hunters, prices of properties with notorious history are usually cheaper than those in the same area.
Said Mr Cheng: 'There will be some impact on the value because only a small group of buyers who are open-minded will buy these properties. And these buyers will also take this chance to depress the price.'
Given time, however, the stigma attached to such properties will dissipate.
For the new owner, putting the property back into the market in the future doesn't necessarily mean a hit on his selling price.
Mr Cheng explained: 'People have short memories. They may forget about the incident, especially after so many years.
This article was first published in The New Paper on October 1, 2008.