Estate agents told to come clean over surrounding developments

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am

The estate agents' watchdog has told agencies to caution their sales staff against making false statements to potential buyers of flats.

This follows accusations by a green group that agents selling property on a new estate had told customers their views would not be blocked by future developments.

Green Sense said six agents promoting Sino Land's Lake Silver in Ma On Shan failed to inform one of its members posing as a buyer that a high-density development would be built later and block the flats' sea views.

Instead, the agents told him there would be a low-density project that would not block the views. The green group also criticised Sino Land for tempting buyers with sales brochures that contained misleading artists' impressions of future neighbouring developments.

The Estate Agents Authority called upon six agencies to caution their sales agents.

Its acting CEO, Anthony Wong Wai-fung, said: 'Sales agents must furnish accurate information and cannot make false statements.

'If they are not clear about some information on the flats, they should make an effort to verify it. If they simply do not know, they should clearly tell consumers they don't know.'

He said the authority might launch an investigation if it suspected agents of making false statements.

Mr Wong also reminded consumers to complain to the authority if they suspected wrongdoing.

Shih Wing-ching, chairman of Centaline Holdings, said agents might not have all the information about a property's surroundings.

He agreed agents had a duty to check for customers. 'But there is so much an agent has to say. It is not practical to ask them to tell customers everything at one short time when they first come into contact. If customers show more interest, agents will go into detail.'

Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of Green Sense, welcomed the authority's action, but maintained that developers were the 'prime culprits'.

'The government should regulate what developers put in the brochures,' he said.