Property agents battle with the lure of earning easy money

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With the growing demand for short-term accommodation, property agents in Singapore contend with the constant struggle of fending off temptations of earning additional income by listing and managing vacant rooms or units on Airbnb.

A property agent who wanted to be known only as William said requests to list and manage units or rooms on Airbnb would usually come from overseas-based property owners or Singapore homeowners who wanted to “skip the hassle of managing (the short-term rental of their units) themselves”, reported Today Online.

OrangeTee & Tie property agent Timothy Chew revealed that he receives about 10 calls in a year from people in need of short-term accommodation.

Most of the calls come from foreigners with short-term visit passes who are here in Singapore for medical reasons, or Singaporeans in need of a place to stay since their homes are being renovated.

And while Chew referred them to serviced apartments, some agents would usually refer such clients to homes listed on Airbnb due to the higher rent for serviced apartments.

Agents could also earn a higher commission from such deals, since their agencies are usually cut out from the transactions.

Propnex Realty agent Aaron Lin, however, said: “Is it worth it to take such risks? You still have to clean up the place every two to three days.”

Moreover, errant agents could lose their licence, be sacked by their agencies, or worse, brought to court – just like what happened to Savills Residential property agents Yao Songliang and Terence Tan En Wei.

The duo, who were the first to be brought to court for violation of Singapore’s short-term stay policy, allegedly rented out four units at d’Leedon condominium in Farrer Road for short-term accommodation via Airbnb.

With this, Suntec Real Estate Consultants research director Colin Tan said property agents “should know better” than to run the risk of losing their source of livelihood for easy money.

“These people are doing it quite blatantly… it forces the authorities to come down hard on them,” he added.


This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.