Everyone should Practice Due Diligence

Not that I’m particularly concerned, but you get articles on the news that damns our trade.

Malaysian couple shell out $4,300

Japanese expat coughs up $6,000

Conman duped would-be tenants and agents by posing as property’s manager

A MALAYSIAN couple and a Japanese expatriate have fallen prey to a rental scam run by a conman who  took $10,300 from them – then went into hiding.

Neither party realised they had paid him to lease the same terrace house in Serangoon Gardens. But in a  twist of fate, they ran into each another there – and discovered his scam.

The man who allegedly made off with their money – his full name is Axley Alexander Ryan Shah and he  calls himself Ryan – had no legal link to the property. He pretended to be the property’s manager. It is  not clear how he obtained the house keys.

The Straits Times, 16th January 2009

Apart from us as Realtors/ agents handling properties for rental or sale, we have to make sure we check our background of our clients and do the necessary ownership check from Inlis before starting to market for them; even if it means they might be close acquaintances to avoid any possible trouble.

Due Diligence Check-list

The best thing to do would be doing a due diligence check-list of what you should do if you are serving the owner/ or the tenant. Verifications of credentials could be done right before the marketing phase starts, which could potentially save you alot of trouble.

In such above mentioned rental scam case, the tenants were the victims and our fellow agents from ERA might have accidentally misplaced the keys, letting some anonymous guy in unintentionally.

Owners/ Landlords, Due Diligence As Well

I understand owners/ landlords usually leave their listings open for any agents to give the best possible deal of a tenancy or even a sale, and as such opens up the vulnerability of such above mentioned frauds.

One simple solution would be working with agents whom you are familiar with and have them undersign a letter of undertaking whilst they have the keys to the apartment/ house.

Another would be awarding exclusives to agents whom you’re familiar with that you know will be responsible towards the marketing of your premises. The agent could update you on the times that your premise would be viewed with other co-broking agents and you could solely hold the exclusive agent responsible should such scams happen.

Again, a check-list might be troublesome, but I suppose it could be something to protect you in case anything happens, in the long run.

Written by Benson Koh
Benson is a professional real estate realtor with over 11 years of experience specializing in all forms of real estate consultancy and brokeraging of different segments from regal homes to commercial spaces. Also a boutique developer, he manages both SRI5000 Developments which concentrates on landed homes as part of his land bank segment and Singapore Realtors Inc (SRI), a real estate agency which has over 7 years of group experience. You can reach him here via various channels. [ Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter | RSS Feed ]