Property agents and customers need time to adjust to using 'saleable area'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am


I refer to the letter by Robert Karlson ('Simple plea for agents to be honest', May 28) and the article ('Flaw space', May 30).

The Estate Agents Authority is a statutory body set up to regulate the estate agency trade.

With the aim of promoting the provision of accurate and clear information on property floor area to consumers by estate agents, the authority issued a new circular requiring licensees to provide information on saleable area to their clients for second-hand residential properties.

The authority re-emphasises that under the current regulation, licensees are required to obtain the saleable area of a property from the Rating and Valuation Department or the agreement of the first assignment of the property registered in the Land Registry. Licensees also need to specify the source of information when providing such information to their clients.

Certain trade members have expressed concern that they will be held responsible for any disputes if there is a discrepancy between the information obtained from the department and that from the first agreement. However, the possible discrepancy is small, especially when compared with that between saleable area and gross floor area.

Furthermore, we understand that it is not a common practice to state the information on saleable area in the sale and purchase agreements or tenancy agreements. The trade may specify the source of information if they find it necessary to include saleable area in the agreements.

When deliberating the pace of implementation, the authority notes the fact that the concept of 'gross floor area' has been used in the secondary market for a long time.

It is thus considered that a progressive approach is desirable to allow time for both the estate agency trade and consumers to adapt to using 'saleable area' to characterise the floor area of a property.

The authority believes that this step-by-step approach will smooth the transition and will pave the way for the eventual adoption of quoting only 'saleable area' in the secondary market in the future.

With this in mind, after the implementation of the circular on January 1, we will closely monitor the market and introduce new measures when the time is ripe.

Anissa Cheng, manager (corporate communications), Estate Agents Authority