Govt to toughen rules on foreign property ads

Given the higher risk involved in overseas property investments, the authorities plan to strictly regulate advertisements put up by foreign developers in Singapore, media reports said.

In fact, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) are currently working together to review the advertising code.

At present, the code only covers general principles. For example, it stipulates that advertisements “should not mislead in any way by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise”.

Under the proposed amendments, advertisers would be required to disclose the investment risks involved, their financial position and whether the property project has secured the necessary approvals from relevant agencies.

According to ASAS Chairman Tan Sze Wee, they are thinking of imposing fines on advertisers who repeatedly air misleading ads and also intensify existing punishments.

Last year, the agency received nine complaints regarding property ads compared to just six in 2013, while the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) recorded 13 complaints concerning foreign property purchases in 2013 and 2014.

In one case, a consumer complained that a Philippine developer refused to update him about his property investment even though he had forked out over $100,000.

“Investing in an unfamiliar foreign market holds high risks… Some of these deals have turned sour when prices declined sharply, resulting in investors losing a large sum of their money,” said CASE President Lim Biow Chuan.

Furthermore, there have been cases where the projects were abandoned after the foreign developer went bankrupt, he added.

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Singapore Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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