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Thread: Owner told to pay $382k agent's fee

  1. #1
    mr funny is offline Any complaints please PM me
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Owner told to pay $382k agent's fee

    January 16, 2009 Friday

    Owner told to pay $382k agent's fee

    She withheld payment as she blamed agent for not telling her that buyer was neighbour

    By K.C. Vijayan, Law Correspondent

    Madam Lam's house at 32H Nassim Road was bought by Mr Chew Hua Seng, her neighbour at 32K, for $25.5 million. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

    A JUDGE has ordered the owner of a $25.5 million house to pay the commission that she had withheld from an property agent for alleged wrongful conduct.

    Madam Lam Cheng Yee, who owned the unit at 32H Nassim Road, had claimed she was entitled to cancel the payment to Ms Cindy Wong of Areco International who had clinched the sale. At 1.5 per cent commission for the sale, the amount came to $382,500.

    She argued that she lost the opportunity to get a better price because it later emerged that the buyer was a neighbour after the sale went through.

    The agent, she said, had told her that the buyer, who remained anonymous during the transaction, wanted the house because of its feng shui.

    She claimed that Ms Wong had been deceitful as the buyer's address on the option document was listed as an office in Temasek Boulevard, rather than 32K Nassim Road.

    The buyer was Mr Chew Hua Seng, founder and chairman of Raffles Education Corporation. He was ranked No. 10 in the Forbes list of Singapore's top 40 richest persons in 2007.

    Madam Lam's bungalow on the 1,250 sq m piece of land adjoins his unit at the rear with a narrow passageway leading to the main road. Seen from Nassim Road, both units are separated by another unit, 32G.

    Madam Lam's husband, Mr Thio Keng Thay, a former deputy managing director of Malaysia Dairy Industries, handled the sale on her behalf.

    Mr Thio had testified in his affidavit for the civil suit heard last July that an adjacent property would 'command a substantial premium over the market value'. He added he would not have sold the bungalow for $25.5 million if Ms Wong had told him the buyer was a neighbour.

    Ruling against Madam Lam, Justice Kan Ting Chiu said in his written judgment made public on Wednesday that her allegation that she had been misled by Ms Wong could not be supported.

    The judge said, among other things, that 'good feng shui' could not be the reason Madam Lam was willing to sell the house.

    Mr Thio also did not say he wanted the buyer's residential address to be disclosed as a condition of sale and had in fact set the asking price of $25.5 million. Nor did he ask Ms Wong if it was a good selling price or if there were other factors he should consider in setting the price.

    Even if he had sought advice from Ms Wong, the issue would then be whether an agent is expected to know that a property can command a higher price from the owner of an adjoining property.

    Ms Wong, Justice Kan noted, was not engaged as a valuer and did not hold herself out to be know- ledgeable in property valuation.

    Separately, the judge took issue with Madam Lam's lawyer Lin Ming Khin for following her instructions to revoke the commission payable to Ms Wong 'without demurral'.

    He asked if this was appropriate as the agent's entitlement would be in jeopardy if the seller happened to be outside the jurisdiction of the Singapore courts or is unable to pay the commission by the time the court rules in the agent's favour.

    'Prudent solicitors in such a situation', he said, would have taken steps to retain the commission pending the outcome of the dispute.

    Property analysts say that generally, an adjoining property will command a premium as such opportunities are rare. Said Savills Singapore director Steven Ming: 'It makes sense to pay a higher price as when the buyer combines the cost with what was paid years ago for the property he currently owns, the cost per sq m would have averaged out to a lower level for the total lot.'

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    These chow kar owners are everywhere. Filthy rich but very miserly. You ask to sell, got sell.... so pay up. Not buts or qualification.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008


    Agt can get buyer to buy such an expensive property yet so 'ugly' as not to pay comm... pls la... serve her right, now gotto pay legal fee somemore..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    I think her point of contention is that the agent does not deserve the commission at all as she/he has failed in discharging his obligation as a property agent for the seller.

    As the sell-side agent, it is your duty to ensure the best price for the seller(who is paying the commission). Any information that is beneficial to the seller in upping the asking price or for the seller to make a more informed decision should be disseminated by the agent.

    In this case, the unit was to be sold to an interested(or in stock mkt, we call them motivated buyer) buyer who will be more than willing to pay a premium over and over what is on the market to gain control of an adjourning unit to his own property. Typically, in stock mkt, pte investors is and willing to pay 20% above pte mkt value of a business if it means he is able to gain control of the company.

    I'm sad that the judge does not think likewise.

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