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Ref: 802012

7-days a week stalking agents
Confidence in "resident" agent
"Resident agent" Not co-broking with others

This report provides some information for first-time Landlords who have great confidence in "resident" agents.
Saturday, January 31, 1998

"Even if I give you the apartment keys, you will not be available at short notice as Jess" said Ms C, an owner of a UE Square Condo apartment who contacted me when she heard that her husband would be available to open the apartment at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday) for viewing by my client.

The husband had a different pager number. I did not need to contact Ms C because I was not successful in placing prospects. This happened to all agents as sometimes, the unit was not right or priced uncompetitvely. The curtains and lighting cost $20,000 which might have lead to higher asking rentals of $6,000 partially furnished now but much more earlier. (UE Square 3-bedrooms’ asking rentals vary from $4,500 - $8,500).

Ms C insisted that I co-broke with the "resident" agent who made great sacrifices, missing lunch (which many agents do too during viewing with prospective Tenants but no Landlord knows). I presumed the husband had given her instructions to open the apartment (actually none was given). I did not want to co-broke because I had more than sufficient number of Owner units.

I explained I have high overheads (as do most agencies) and I would prefer not to co-broke. She wanted to refer another agent to open the apartment and if I close, I could contact her directly, thereby getting the full commission. I did not want any part of this unethical scheme. The husband later contacted me to say he would be at the unit.

Actually, I had contacted the 2 resident agents earlier as to whether they had a unit so that we could co-broke. Knowing that I have several units to show, the senior agent said that it "would confuse the prospective Tenant and cause a price war" and therefore would not want to show any unit. I was shocked because the Owners who entrusted the keys to them would assume that their units would be open for any interested agents or tenants with the objective of many viewing to close early. It would be good to be honest if co-broking agent does not have any units.

I do co-broke as no agent can control all types of units in Singapore. Just earlier, I showed an English couple a bright corner unit "open house" by a PAL agent and they loved that 2-bedroom well furnished 14th floor unit with views of Fort Canning and floor-to ceiling windows in the 2 bedrooms and expensive upscale furniture. The $3,800 rental might be above their $3,000 budget.

When some Caucasian expats said $3,000 rental, they might be able to stretch to $3,500 or more if their wives love the apartment. The important thing is to get the client to view the unit, rather than strict qualification of pricing.

Advices to first-time Owners. Resident agents usually have too many units and you may be better off doing your own viewing or giving the key to many or certain rental agents if you can’t stand going to open the unit so many times, at odd hours. You still need to advertise your own unit as "Owner" to remind the others that your unit is still available. Most of the closings are done by other agents as expatriate clientele are distributed to various agencies. Your "resident" agents are one or two of the numerous housing agencies in Singapore.

He or she may not be obliged to show your apartment to other agents – one reason could be not to expose your unit to other agents and lose their non-exclusive listing in this competitive world.

Some Owners whom I had direct contact, do insist that the "resident" agent show the unit to me without co-broking but this may not be fair to the resident or his Company might have issued different policies to frustrate such viewing (by not being available at the appointed time).

Advices to first-time Agents. You have an obligation to show the units and co-broke if the Owner entrusts you with the key to the unit. You never know, as the expatriate’s budget may be higher owing to the fact that the wife loved the unit. As to stalking agents, you will need to meet your clients away from the courtyard or building of UE Square or any new developments because you can be sure that the resident agents have no qualms in cultivating your expatriate client and steering them away.

In some new Condos, there may be one or 2 housing agents stationed 7 days a week on the courtyard, just like renovation contractors of HDB, soliciting and getting keys from Owners and thereby getting many listings. That is an extremely effective and excellent strategy as Owners gain confidence in such "resident" agents who forgo lunches to provide a presence.

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