SINGAPORE: Property websites told CNA that they have procedures to ensure that their online listings comply with laws and regulations, but the responsibility ultimately lies with agents who post the property online.
This comes after the Housing Board said last Thursday (Dec 22) that it is investigating property listings of “vacant” BTO flats being sold on the open market.
The issue made headlines after online news articles highlighted HDB flats for sale that touted the home being sold as “brand new” and never lived in. A few listings were found on PropertyGuru, one of the largest property portals in Singapore.
The HDB requires flat owners to fulfil a minimum occupation period (MOP) of five years before selling their home, and it has specified that the owners have to physically occupy the flat.
Replying to CNA queries, PropertyGuru said that the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has reached out to its moderation team and it has “furnished the necessary listing information based on the regulator’s queries”.
PropertyGuru said that its agent partners are to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations prior to listing the properties on its portal.
It added that it has sent an email notification to its property agents to reminded them to comply with both CEA & HDB’s regulations on meeting HDB flats’ MOP.
Explaining how it ensures compliance, PropertyGuru said that all listings are moderated manually by PropertyGuru’s moderation team, with support from PropertyGuru users, who help report issues.
“A sound reasoning must be presented before the removal of listings from our site. Agents are required to make amendments or remove the post within a 24-hour or 48-hour period, depending on the nature of the violation, when a clear violation is found or reported,” said a spokesperson.
When a complaint is made highlighting a violation, PropertyGuru will clarify with the agent. For example, for a HDB BTO flat listing that may have possibly breached HDB’s requirement of fulfilling a five-year MOP, it will request proof of documentation to verify if the sellers have HDB’s approval to sell the BTO unit before it reaches MOP.
“On our end, we are unable to determine if someone has lived in the house or not. However, our T&Cs state that agents are responsible for verifying that their listings comply with government rules,” said the spokesperson.