SINGAPORE: A property agent has been fined S$6,000 and suspended for misconduct while trying to help an elderly couple sell their Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, the Council for Estate Agencies' disciplinary committee said in a media release on Friday (Sep 22).
PropNex Realty property agent Ng Ser Leong failed to make sure that one of the sellers - who was illiterate, suffered from dementia and lived in a dementia care home - was fully aware of the consequences of the sale of the flat she co-owned with her husband, the council said.
Ng was asked to help sell the couple's flat in August 2015, when a friend of the woman's husband approached him about the sale.
During one of his visits to the old man in his flat, Ng was told that the flat was co-owned between the man and his wife, but that she had been living in a care home in Pasir Ris for the last 10 years.
He told the man that his wife would have to sign documents related to the sale, but said that her thumbprints would be enough.
He then visited the woman at the home and got her thumbprints on the document. However, key information fields such as the purchase price had been left blank, in violation of the industry's professional code.
The case came to light only when the couple's children found out about the sale when the elderly man had a fall and was hospitalised.
Both the couple's son as well as a prospective buyer who had signed an Option to Purchase then filed complaints against Ng.
The agent pleaded guilty to two charges under the Council for Estate Agencies' code of ethics and professional client care. The first was for failing to take due diligence and care in his work, for which he was fined S$3,000 and given a seven-month suspension.
The second was for asking someone to sign an agreement which had key information fields left blank, for which he was fined S$3,000 and given a four-month suspension.
Four other charges were also taken into account for Ng's sentencing. Both of Ng's suspension periods will run concurrently from Oct 19 this year.