A GROUP of buyers has claimed that marketing agents misled them over the completion date of a Paya Lebar residential development they invested in.
They allege the agents assured them the 99-unit Suites @ Paya Lebar in Upper Paya Lebar Road would be completed by as early as October, making the apartments that much more appealing.
But this completion date is unlikely given building progress.
The sales and purchase agreement (SPA) puts the expected completion date at before the end of 2014, which is the legally binding deadline. While developers often complete projects earlier than required, they are not obliged to.
Four buyers of units at Suites @ Paya Lebar told The Straits Times that agents assured them the project would be completed by this year. Some were told to expect completion as early as October.
Their complaint, which has been lodged with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), states that they were later informed that this date would not be met.
The buyers are angry as they say agents had marketed the early completion date very confidently and sold it as a key advantage of the Fragrance Properties project.
Mr Alex Zhang, who in February paid more than $500,000 for a 409 sq ft unit for his own use, said the October completion date was the 'key driver' that led him to buy. But he said the agent told him a month after he signed the contract that the date had been pushed back to the first or second quarter of next year.
'If you think the estimated date is not guaranteed, then (agents) shouldn't even volunteer the info to buyers,' said Mr Zhang. 'My understanding is that any unpredictable circumstances would already have been taken into account in the estimated date given to us by agents.
'If I knew that it wouldn't be completed so early, I could have considered more choices in the market, some of which offered more attractive discounts, so there is a lost opportunity there.'
A buyer - who wanted to be known only as Mr Wong - who bought a 398 sq ft unit for $548,000, said he was told that the development will now be completed only in the third quarter of next year - a full year after he expected it to be ready.
This will mean additional costs as his rental lease runs out at the end of this year, he said.
Fragrance Properties said it did not instruct any of its agents to market Suites @ Paya Lebar as having an expected completion date of the end of this year.
It said that while there have been some site delays, they are not major and the work is ongoing, adding that buyers will be able to collect their keys by Dec 31, 2014, as indicated in the option to purchase and SPA.
Experts say the case highlights the need for buyers to know what is contractually binding and what might be marketing speak.
A lawyer who declined to be named noted: 'Buyers should look at the contractual completion date in official documents and not take any oral or unsupported claims by agents as a substitute.'
The CEA said it has received two complaints about Suites @ Paya Lebar but declined to give details as investigation is ongoing.
However, it did note that when agents and sales staff are engaged by developers, they are told of the project's expected temporary occupation period (TOP) date.
'Estate agents and salespersons must ensure that all materials that advertise or promote a property accurately describe (it),' said Ms Purnima Shantilal, CEA's director of licensing and investigations.
'The information in the advertisements, which may include the expected TOP, must not be inaccurate, false or misleading.'
Non-compliance of advertising guidelines might lead to disciplinary actions such as warnings, fines, or a revocation or suspension of licence or registration.