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flat hunting without agent = mission possible?

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alekk
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flat hunting without agent = mission possible?

Postby alekk » Fri, 03 May 2013 6:15 pm

hi all,

I will be arriving in Singapore in a few days time for flat hunting before spouse+child arrival. From what I can hear, it is usual to use the services of an agent. Nevertheless, I find their price more than expensive and if I can find a flat without their help, I would be more than happy. Flat hunting in Europe is relatively straightforward, without any agent, and I was just wondering if this is just more difficult in Singapore, or if there were any special reason that lead people to use an expensive agent? Do I need to pay a guy several thousands $ for driving me around and show me a few flats ?!? In top of that, I can see that it is in the agent's interest to show me expensive flats since he is paid on commission.

Any advice for flat hunting without agent? Is it something possible? Have you done it?

All the best!
Alex.

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Postby nakatago » Fri, 03 May 2013 6:20 pm

It can be done, though I'm not sure how you can ensure that it will happen that way. To illustrate:

* you scour the internet for ads. most likely, an agent posted the ad
* once called for a flat. turned out to be the owner; asked me if I'm an agent, told him no, he said good because he doesn't want to deal with them
* our latest place; was posted by an agent--the landlady's agent. so we dealt with her. We didn't pay for an agent's fee because she's not our agent. we found this place via the usual means (re: mad internet search skills).

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Postby alekk » Fri, 03 May 2013 6:29 pm

Good to hear that it is actually possible.

Any advise on to which website to look at? Any keyword used in Singapore to indicate that the ad is not posted by an agent?

Btw, why are agents that expensive in Singapore?

Thanks!
Alex.

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nakatago
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Postby nakatago » Fri, 03 May 2013 7:13 pm

alekk wrote:Good to hear that it is actually possible.

Any advise on to which website to look at? Any keyword used in Singapore to indicate that the ad is not posted by an agent?

Btw, why are agents that expensive in Singapore?

Thanks!
Alex.


Which is only exacerbated by the fact that they have no motivation to get you a lower rent because their fee is a percentage of what you'll pay.

Someone once here made a deal with his agent that any decrease in his rent will go to his agent as part of the fee. You can try this or a variation thereof if ever you'll engage an agent.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 03 May 2013 8:28 pm

nakatago wrote:Which is only exacerbated by the fact that they have no motivation to get you a lower rent because their fee is a percentage of what you'll pay.

Someone once here made a deal with his agent that any decrease in his rent will go to his agent as part of the fee. You can try this or a variation thereof if ever you'll engage an agent.


I've heard of this being done.

Just say that you like a place offered at $5k/mo. You could offer your agent, above any commission already due, maybe 10-25% of one years incremental savings he can negotiate on the rent.

i.e. make is a win-win for both of you.

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Postby AngMoG » Fri, 03 May 2013 11:09 pm

Currently, in theory, pretty much all internet ads for apartments/rooms are posted by the owner's agent. That means, because double representation is disallowed, that the owner pays the commission, you only pay the stamping fee. Any agent who posted an ad and asks for commission from you is most likely running afoul of the law, and you can refer them to the CEA if you like.

Sure, > 90% of agents are incompetent, but if you do not have to pay them, I would not care that much.

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Postby Sergei82 » Sat, 04 May 2013 2:53 pm

I thought, there must be at least 2 agents (legally) - one from each side, and you must pay a half of the commission, another half goes from the landlord. Is it still possible to have only one side represented by an agent?

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Postby beppi » Sat, 04 May 2013 3:38 pm

It is very well possible to find a place without agent, but it will take more time, energy and determination from your side.
Singapore property agents are often inefficient, dishonest and dumb, but they control at least 90% or the housing market. They might be expensive for the shoddy service they offer, but they are NOT expensive compared to agent fees in most developed countries (in my home country in Europe it's 3 months rent plus 19% GST).
As mentioned above, as long as you reply to ads placed by agents (who are then by definition the landlord's agent and cannot charge you a fee) you are fine. Just don't agree to have him/her show you another flat that fits your requirements (e.g. because the advertised one is already gone - or never existed - a common ruse by agents to get you to sign them up and pay their fee).
Sometimes (but not always) ads placed by owners themselves are marked as such. In my experience, it is much easier to deal with an owner directly, and the best deals (nicer places, lower rent, better locations, etc.) never seem to go through agents.
I found it worthwhile to spend the extra few weeks searching to get a better place without agent.
Good luck - you will need it!

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Postby cavendish » Sat, 04 May 2013 7:01 pm

hello, this is my first post and may I just say that this forum is very helpful.

Yes it is possible but it will require a lot of time and effort in terms of searching, coordinating, bargaining, and paperwork after closing the deal. I was able to do it before but 2 of my friends helped me out along the way. what I would suggest is that you still do your searches online, but also consider contacting agents for help. some of them are very good and have even drove me around for viewing. try to avoid co-broke (you engaging with an agent while the owner has an agent as well). one agent should be enough, from either party.

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Postby beppi » Sat, 04 May 2013 7:11 pm

From an agent's standpoint, the work needed for one tenant search is the same, but the fee in case of co-broking is double. That's why they almost invariably try to push you into a co-broking agreement with another agent (who's of course a good friend and only comes in because the first agent cannot charge both parties).
You should stand firm against such demands, one agent is more than enough for arranging a tenancy - in fact none is my preferred method!

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Postby nutnut » Sat, 04 May 2013 7:39 pm

We found our current place without an agent, no issue, simple stuff, the landlords agent did everything for us (stamp duty etc) and we didn't have to pay her anything, also, we had a friend (who is a local agent) look over the contract and tell us what to get removed from there.

If you want to find property, this site has a massive property section! Have a look.
nutnut

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 05 May 2013 12:35 am

beppi wrote:They might be expensive for the shoddy service they offer, but they are NOT expensive compared to agent fees in most developed countries (in my home country in Europe it's 3 months rent plus 19% GST)


Tenant pays nothing in the UK. And IME nothing in the US, or Japan.

People in Germany.... maybe they pay because there are so many people, even professionals, who will rent for life (I had plenty of neighbours there who'd lived in the/our same apartment block for 30, 40, 50 years)

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Postby alekk » Sun, 05 May 2013 2:15 am

Suppose that I don't use the service of an agent an directly deal with the landlord agent, are there common mistakes to avoid / things to do / etc... Just got a few agents on the phone (randomly picked agent found on the internet), and some of them really sound fishy ...

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Postby nutnut » Sun, 05 May 2013 10:31 am

Yes and there are plenty of stickies in this forum to tell you that kind of information. Go and search!
nutnut

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 05 May 2013 10:42 am

JR8 wrote:And IME nothing in the US, or Japan.


Outside of NYC, I think it is really rare to even have agents on either side in the US. It's either a property management company or the owner themselves that you deal with.

In Japan, I've heard stories of 'key money' in the range of several months rent. This was years ago though. Is that no longer in practice?


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