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Salesperson Horror Story #3: Agent Forged My Signature!


Introduction


In early 2019, a seller had agreed on terms with his property agent to market and sell his HDB flat. They then agreed to sell the unit at $580,000 after doing their initial calculations and that the agent would receive 2% of the sale price as his commission. As the seller was not staying at the unit, he gave the keys to the agent and almost full autonomy to run the selling processes for him.


After marketing the unit for a period of 4 months, the agent proposed to the seller that the asking price of $58,000 be amended as there were no buyers willing to agree to this price. He proposed that this was likely due to potential buyers worried about incurring Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) as they felt like the asking price was considerably higher than the actual valuation of the unit itself.


The seller then expressed that he was unwilling to budge until he received an actual valuation for the unit itself.


Evaluating The Property

The seller decided that the best method of doing so would be to pose as a buyer to file an OTP in order to receive the official valuation from HDB. Indicating himself as the buyer, he filled in his NRIC number and signed the witness portion with an alias of himself. In addition to this, he even forged the seller’s signature on the OTP before submitting it to HDB.

A HDB valuer then conducted the valuation of the unit with the agent, valuing the house at $525,000. This led to the seller moving the asking price down to match this more realistic asking price value. This more appropriate asking price led to interest from an actual buyer who eventually filed for an OTP with HDB.


At this point, HDB discovered that the original OTP was a false intent to buy as it was filed by the agent to mine for information, and was never exercised. Further investigations also revealed that 2 OTP’s were issued in the seller’s name for the sale of the unit with differing signatures, as the original was forged by the agent.


Investigation and Outcome


The HDB opened an investigation and found out that the seller had only signed a single OTP, suspecting that the other OTP was forged by the agent. The case was then referred to the CEA.


The CEA’s Disciplinary Committee convicted the agent of breaching professional and ethical codes, and was subsequently fined and suspended. While this did not lead to any direct consequences for his client, finding out that the agent had committed identity theft by forging his signature was sure to leave a bad taste in his mouth.


Some things that the seller and agent could have done differently was to use a digital valuation tool, similar to MOGUL.sg's M-Value as part of the Sell @ MOGUL program. By doing so, they could have received a fast and free valuation, along with other time and cost saving benefits in selling the property together. Read more about Sell @ MOGUL here.



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