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Phantom Property Agents

>> Thursday, September 8, 2011

It has recently been brought to light that there are phantom property agents who are not licensed but still carry out sales like they do. They close the deal but submit the transaction through a licensed agent to claim the commission.

A few things puzzle me. My assumptions are, you can close a property deal on your own, i.e. it is not mandatory to go through an agent. Commission is paid separately, i.e. it is not factored into the price to be remunerated. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Firstly, sellers who Do-It-Yourself (DIY) are no different from unlicensed agents, which is allowed. Therefore, a phantom agent can act like a close "friend" to the seller and assist the property transaction. Is an unlicensed DIY seller asking advice and help from a friend illegal?

Secondly, why do you need to pay the commission to the company. Instead of asking the client to make the cheque out to the company, tell him/her to make it out to the phantom agent directly. Do not even involve the company that requires only licensed agents to go through them and even take a percentage of the commission, leaving the poor phantom agent with a miserly portion even after doing all the work. In addition, established big companies even charge GST. If the justification is to ensure the client pays the commission, then it could not be further from the truth. If nothing is signed in black and white, the client can decide not to pay the commission and there is nothing the company will do to help.

Unless my assumptions are wrong, this structure allows for unlicensed agents to carry on to work and even get paid in full. So, why are they so silly to earn less by going through licensed companies and even risk getting caught?

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