THE property industry watchdog is clamping down on aggressive marketing tactics by some property agencies.
After a string of complaints, practices in the firing line include erecting tents by the roadside, and over-zealous agents flagging down cars to pass out fliers. Both are considered dangerous.
The Council for Estate Agencies' (CEA) Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care requires agents to comply with the law when conducting their work.
The Straits Times understands the CEA met some agency bosses last month, warning that existing laws must not be infringed in the marketing of projects.
Some examples were flagged. For instance, agencies were reminded they may not pitch tents or other structures along the roadside without approval. This is a common way to drum up interest in a new project, especially if the showflat is not ready.
Agents are also prohibited from distributing fliers along the roadside, while the placement of advertisement banners on public properties such as lamp posts, railings and trees is not allowed.
They can do so only if prior approval has been obtained from the relevant authorities. But permits for tents, for example, are unlikely to be easily obtained now, agency bosses say.
Under Building and Construction Authority (BCA) rules, for example, all forms of outdoor advertisements must have a licence.
Agency bosses say the CEA has previously verbally set out concerns on aggressive marketing. They add that the council seems to be clamping down more sharply on agents flouting laws, but emphasised the difficulty of juggling the expectations of developers and the rules which will clip their marketing options.
Mr Steven Tan, OrangeTee's managing director, added that his agency has taken steps to work within the existing framework. In its recent marketing of Ripple Bay in Pasir Ris, it advised the developers to erect a tent within the site compound. It allowed marketing and sales to be more organised and was less of a nuisance to those living nearby, he said.
'It's a good step for the industry. There will be some adjustments but agents can now work within clearer guidelines to come up with marketing campaigns that are more professional.'
Global Property Strategic Alliance chief executive Jeffrey Hong said agents would have to be more creative in marketing, but this might allow them to practise in a more professional manner and improve their image.
Mr Eric Cheng, chief executive of ECG Property, said it was unclear in some instances what can and cannot be done, such as whether fliers can be distributed in public places.
He said agents are confused and that it would help if clear and specific guidelines were issued.
But property investor Samuel Heng, 42, cheered the move: 'We are already bombarded by fliers, text messages and e-mails. There's no need for pushy marketing tactics.'
Flouting the code could result in fines, suspension, or revocation of licence. Action could also be taken by the BCA or Land Transport Authority (LTA) in certain cases. ERA Realty, for example, was asked by the LTA to remove banners and a tent they were using as a working area to distribute pamphlets to motorists when they were marketing Sky Habitat in Bishan last month.