Many Singaporeans buy, sell and lease their properties. You can choose to handle a property transaction on your own or engage the services of a property agent.

Realtor handling house key to new happy home owner

But there might be many questions in your mind:

  • Should you hire a property agent in the first place?
  • What should you look out for when engaging one?
  • What is a fair commission to pay?
  • How to resolve if there are disputes between you and the property agent?

Here are five practical tips for you if you need to engage a property agent.

Understand the Terminology in the Industry

In Singapore, property agent is a “salesperson” of an “estate agent”. Sounds confusing? Unfortunately, it is. It is just like the confusing terms used in the financial advisory industry.

Under the new Estate Agents Act,

  • “Estate agents” means estate agency businesses (sole proprietors, partnerships, and companies)
  • Salespersons” means individuals who perform estate agency work.

Estate Agents are granted a licence by CEA and the salespersons of the estate agents are registered. They can perform estate agency work only if they have a valid licence or registration.

To make things simple, let’s just refer the “estate agent” or “salesperson” to a property agent.

Tip #1: Check if the property agent is registered with CEA in the Public Register

Always ask the property agent to show you his/her estate agent card and verify the information on the card against CEA’s Public Register. Do not respond to flyers that only displays a name and contact number of a property agent but not his/her registration number.


CEA is Council for Estate Agencies. Through their public register, you can:

  • Check whether a real estate agent is a licensed estate agent;
  • Check whether a person is a registered salesperson;
  • Know whether a real estate agent or salesperson has been disciplined by the Council within the last three years.
  • Know whether any awards have been conferred on a real estate agent or salesperson by the Council

You can also access the Public Register and CEA Consumer Resources on the go via CEA@SG Mobile Application which is available in both Apple store and Google Play store.

  • You can search Salesperson by Name, Registration number or Mobile number.
  • You can search Estate Agent by Name or Licence number

You can report to CEA at 1800-6432555 or when you encounter any person not listed on the Public Register but carrying out estate agency work illegally.

Tip #2: Understand what your property agent is supposed to do for you

Typically, your property agent is responsible for the following services:

  • Promote and safeguarding your interest in a property transaction.
  • Offer you professional advice in the transaction process and act in your best interest.
  • Represent you in negotiations and promptly update you on all offers and proposals from potential clients.
  • Forward to you all offers and expressions of interest from potential parties or their salespersons or estate agents.
  • Assist you to enter into a binding agreement and reasonably explain to you all relevant forms.
  • Explain clearly to you about co-broking so that you can make an informed decision. Co-broking involves two or more property agents in a property transaction. It widens the exposure of property to all and you may be able to get the best deal.
  • Declare to you immediately any conflict of interest and all external sources of income/referral fees.


For HDB property transactions, your salesperson is also required to:

  • Advise you on your eligibility to buy, sell or lease the flat.
  • Explain and go through with you the resale checklist, if you are selling or buying a resale property and check whether renovations made were authorised by the relevant government agencies.
  • Assist you to submit forms, documents and/or important information required by HDB to process the transaction.

Tip #3: Understand what your property agent should NOT do

  • Introduce or recommend you to licensed or illegal moneylenders
  • Represent both the buyer/tenant and seller/landlord in the same property transaction
  • Handle transaction monies, such as option fee, downpayment and others.
  • Insist that you engage a property agent (Don’t forget you can choose to handle the transaction yourself)

Tip #4: Always negotiate the Commission Rate with your property agent

Most of the time it is possible to negotiate the commission. But you should only negotiate the commission rate with your salesperson before signing any agreement and clarify if GST is factored into commission amount.

Nevertheless, I do advocate that consumers should be reasonable when it comes to commission negotiation. Most property agents do provide professional services and it is hard work. Click here if you want to find out how much an average property agent earns.

You should only pay commission after the transaction is completed, and you only pay commissions to your estate agent and not to your salesperson directly.

Tip #5: Dispute resolution with your property agent

You should always use CEA’s prescribed Estate Agency Agreements to negotiate the commission payable, terms and conditions with your salesperson.

In the event of a dispute, if you have used CEA’s prescribed agreement for the appointment of your licensed estate agent. you can make use of CEA’s dispute resolution scheme to resolve disputes.


You can read more about CEA’s Dispute Resolution Scheme here.

If you find these tips useful, simply click the button below to share.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • The rental system in Singapore can be a bit confusing, whether you’re navigating it for the first time, or even if you’ve been through it before. One of the the most common question seems to be ‘why are there so many people involved? Thanks for sharing this looking forward another tips on your blog!

  • Great advice, particularly about negotiating the commission rate with your property agent before signing any agreement! It is actually often hard to negotiate the commission rate and the services offered because this is often done after meeting the property agent and looking for a different agent after meeting an agent would be considered rude. This is because Singapore’s property websites are designed so that property agents call us and ask us to meet before we had time to compare agents and ask them about their experience with similar properties.

    A friend and I decided to try to solve this problem (how to find a property agent that matches your needs) and we built, a Singapore-based property agent search engine. It’s free for everyone, home owners, home seekers and property agents. Feel free to take a look and share it with your friends and with the agents you recommend: 🙂

      • Hi Ivan,

        Thank you for your reply 🙂

        Let’s say Michelle, a property owner, is looking to rent out her condo in Bugis and she wants to do it within the next three months. Michelle can go to and select the following options: “Rent out”, “Condo”, “Central”, “$2K – $4K/month” and “In less than 3 months”. She will then see a list of property agents who have experience with renting out condos in the Central region in less than 3 months and with a rent between $2K and $4K per month. The information comes from property agents who created their ZenEstate profiles and we have verified their CEA registration numbers. Michelle can now look at the agent profile pages and contact them through ZenEstate (without giving her phone number) to ask them the questions she wants (e.g. commission rate). Once she has selected her favorite agent, she can meet with the agent! We do not take any commission or hidden fee, and ZenEstate can help home owners and home seekers who want to buy, sell, rent and rent out properties!

  • You may choose to sign a prescribed estate agent agreement when engaging an agent. The signing of the estate agency agreement formalises the relationship between you and the agent. You may negotiate the terms and conditions with him/her before signing the agreement.

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