February 8, 2009 Sunday

ERA imposes stricter ethics guidelines

ERA Realty Network has implemented stricter ethics guidelines for its 3,000 agents.

It has also suspended the two agents involved in the case - Mr Jeremy Ang and Mr Mike Parikh.

The property agency will now require all agents to sign an undertaking at the start of each sale transaction, assuring customers that all possible conflicts of interest will be 'properly disclosed to the best of the agent's knowledge', ERA said in a press statement last Friday night.

This disclosure, modelled on similar forms used in the insurance and financial services industries, will assure clients that they are the top priority of their respective agents, it added.

Every time a buyer makes an offer to buy a property marketed by ERA, he will also have to sign a declaration that he is not an ERA agent or a member of an agent's immediate family.

A similar disclosure is already in place for buyers who purchase their units directly from property developers, although resale transactions do not require this.

The property agency will also implement an 'extended' code of ethics for agents and customers, ERA president Jack Chua said. This will be finalised within the next three months.

The other measures will come into effect immediately, he added, pointing out that the new ethical measures were 'not about whether we were right or wrong in the court case'.

'They are to tighten the whole selling process, and to improve transparency and accountability.'

Mr Chua added: 'We just want to make it clear so in future, we don't have to dispute whether there are conflicts of interest. At the moment I think there are some grey areas.'

Fiona Chan