Amid the wheeling and dealing in the property market, consumers need accurate information and proper advice so that they can make informed decisions about their property transactions, said Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin on Saturday.
"Purchasing property is probably one of the biggest decisions that we will make," he said. "It is a huge responsibility, and we need to make sure that people are provided with the right support."
Speaking at a Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) event, Mr Tan announced two initiatives that the two bodies will rely on for their outreach and education efforts.
First, there will be a series of quarterly seminars to educate the public on engaging real estate salespeople, consumer responsibilities and dispute resolution. The series is scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year.
Case and CEA have also produced a guide to highlight key considerations consumers should think about when making a property transaction, tips for financing and even what to look out for when buying a property overseas.
The CEA also launched its Professional Service Manual (PSM) on Saturday.
It spells out the standards and guidelines for estate agents and salespeople and aims to promote ethical service in the industry.
The PSM will also clarify the duties and responsibilities of salespeople, and they will be required to exercise a higher duty of care and diligence when they deal with potentially vulnerable customers, such as people who are illiterate or face financial problems.
"Salespersons should not unethically exert undue pressure, influence or induce such clients to buy, sell, let or rent a property," said Mr Tan, who is also Senior Minister of State for National Development. "These are people's lives we are talking about and it is not just the life of one indi vidual. It impacts an entire family, and that is not trivial at all."
Ms Grace Seow, a property owner, believes the initiatives will help encourage consumers to do their own research. "I think a lot of people don't know what they're getting into sometimes, and just take the real estate agent at his word," said the 48-year-old secretary.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.