Dennis Wee Realty fined SG$66k for 'false representations' in marketing

Dennis Wee Realty (DWR) has been fined SG$66,000 by the Council for Estate Agencies’ (CEA) disciplinary committee. This was for failing to provide a written advisory message to six sets of investors to draw their attention to the risks involved in purchasing foreign properties. In addition to the SG$66,000 fine, CEA has also banned DWR for 12 months from transacting or marketing foreign properties, with effect from 24 November 2017.

In 2014, DWR conducted seminars to market various property projects, namely the Hotel Options Projects. It also ran nine advertisements in the The Straits Times to publicise the seminars. According to the CEA, DWR’s advertisements included “false representations” that the attendees of the seminars would be able to meet the developers of the property projects.

Additionally, the ads reflected that all information and details were provided by the developer, and that the source belonged to Shepherd Cox, a property investment company appointed as the marketing agent. This suggested that Shepherd Cox was the developer when in fact it was not. Meanwhile, the actual developers were not present at the seminars.

The statement added that at all times, DWR had to comply with the Practice Guidelines for Estate Agents and Salespersons Marketing Foreign Properties (PGMFP). According to the PGMFP, estate agents appointed by the developer need to provide a written advisory message to consumers.

For the marketing of units in the Hotel Options Projects, DWR would be contractually entitled to receive a commission of 10% of the purchase price for each unit sold in both projects. A total of nine sets of investors bought 21 units in the two hotel developments marketed. This included 16 units in the Lymm Project and five units at the Knutsford Project. This was through DWR at a purchase price of approximately SG$194,320 and SG$169,645 respectively.

In 2014, DWR entered an agreement with Shepherd Cox to market and sell Hotel Options (Lymm)’s Ibis Budget Hotel located in Lymm, UK, and Hotel Options (Knutsford)’s Ibis Budget Hotel located in Knutsford, Cheshire, UK. This was exclusively in Singapore.

The CEA is a statutory board established in 2010 under the Estate Agents Act to regulate and promote the development of a professional and trusted real estate agency industry. The key responsibilities of the CEA are to license property agencies and register property agents. This is to promote the integrity and competence of property agencies and property agents, and equip consumers with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions in property transactions