My dad had a good laugh at all this because he sold his property himself and he bought the next property without an agent directly from the seller. The truth is you don't need to hire these agents. Why get an agent and spend time worrying about what he is doing behind your back when the procedures are relatively simple? When my dad did it, the Internet wasn't invented and he had to advertise the property on the newspapers. It is even easier now with so many online forums and classifieds which allows a person to put up an ad FOC. If you're interested in selling your property yourself, HDB conducts a seminar on buying and selling procedures and the next one is on 7 March 2009. I was surprised that the response of CASE to the whole saga was to ask for all agents to be licensed through an accreditation scheme. Can ethics be licensed? Look at all the accomplishments of those licensed RMs at our banks. CASE should be conducting free seminars on how to sell your property yourself instead and help everyone to save money.
In the book Freakonomics, the authors did a study of selling prices of property sold through agents vs the agent selling his own property. They found out that when the agents sold their own property, they did so a higher price that when they were selling for their clients. The reason is simple - the commission incentivise the closing of deals rather than fetching the best price for your property. So the agent will try to persuade you to lower your selling price to make his job of selling the property easier. If you want to sell your own property through an agent to save time, do some homework to find out what it is worth, fix the price and don't let the agent talk you into selling it for lower.
Today I'm meeting 2 strangers - one selling me a 2nd PDA (with 5 months warranty) at 40% the price of a new one and the other selling me 2nd hand computer memory (with lifetime warranty) at 50% the price I need to pay at Sim Lim. I have bought or sold 2nd hand stuff more than 20 times in the past 12 months. Like many Singaporeans, I have plenty of useful but old things I want to get rid of and things that I need but don't need them to be new. To buy or sell something takes only 5 minutes and its free. You can do it via eBay.sg or hardwarezone. It is often easier than going out shopping. Take the 2nd hand PDA I'm buying as an example. I tried looking for it at those shops selling used handphones and many wanted either a ridiculous price or didn't have the model. I found in it 2 minutes on eBay. The only things you should by at CashConverters are the new stuff because you can get get 2nd hand things a lot cheaper online. Cash Converters buys products from companies that have gone bust and these new unused products are sold at cheap prices there. ...unless you're in a hurry, try selling your 2nd hand stuff online rather than to CashConverters.
You can buy and sell things easily on the web transparently and competitively. The Internet gives you access to thousands of buyers and sellers. The days of the middlemen are numbered....and who needs them?... especially when they are not absolutely honest.