Property developers to face stricter showroom criteria

Private residential developers now face stricter laws on marketing and information provision to residential buyers under the new Housing Developers Act.

In Parliament Monday, Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said that the Act safeguards the interests of buyers of uncompleted private residential properties from misrepresentation or suppression of truth by the housing developers.

Among the new rules, showroom flats cannot made to look bigger than the actual area of the flat. Actual doors instead of glass walls will also have to be installed in showrooms to depict a more accurate representation.

Transaction prices will now have to reflect all discounts and rebates. This includes any furniture coupons and stamp duty refunds that developers give to counter the inflation of residential unit prices.

Over the years “some developers have started to mark their units at higher prices, while offering significant discounts through rebates and other benefits such as furniture vouchers,” said Lee. “Such inflated sale prices mask the real transacted prices and undermine transparency in the property market.”

Lee said that developers must provide the same accurate information on residential transactions to the Controller of Housing as they would to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Controller of Housing will also get legal powers to publish information regarding building projects and sales transactions so home owners can make more informed decisions.

Those who flout the rules can be punished with fines up to $100,000, compared to the previous fine of $20,000. The government can conduct further inspect and if necessary close the showroom flats.

These steps are necessary to protect the interest of homebuyers and maintain a level of “prudence”, explained Lee.

"A home is, in most cases, the single largest investment in one's lifetime. It is only right that home-buyers are provided with the appropriate tools and legal safeguards to make informed decisions,” he said.

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