Sunday, 9 September 2007

Is This Possible? A Transparent Sales Comm?

I found this pro-enbloc blog set up by the Bedok Court Condominium Sales Committee. (They have an older one here.) Now normally I would not advertise pro-sale blogs since there's hardly a need to broadcast them (they have plenty of resources from the agents to do their own advertising).

However, this blog is interesting in that it looked like they took the higher road of announcing all their meetings, % voted, % present, minutes from the meetings, who are the sales committee, where they stay, what were the motions passed, who were the agents they contacted etc. In other words, they are in many ways attempting what the new amendments would like sales committee to do on their own accord - to be as fair, transparent and equitable to all owners as possible.

It's a good step towards ensuring the enbloc process respects both majority and minority owners.

What I'd like to see in the Bedok Court blog though -
  1. Activating the comments so that people can post comments on the meetings say, and get feedback from the sales committee. If the SC is attempting to be transparent, why stop comments?
  2. Minutes of the SC meetings to be put up as well, so all Bedok Court owners are kept informed of the discussion and important issues raised therein.
  3. The ability for owners who are not keen to sell to have a dialogue with the sales committee, and have this dialogue in a public space such as the blog (or an internet discussion forum etc).
Too often, I've seen sales committee ignore and disrespect non-signatories and people who may choose not to sell. The mentality is that if they can achieve 80% they don't need to care about the remainder. What I'd really like to see, is a sales committee who endeavour to do their utmost best to get every owner on board, and to address concerns that minority owners may have, especially if it's sentimental reasons. For example, I've not seen any sales committee work with their marketing agent to secure or obtain replacement units for people who wish to stay in the same area. After all, how hard is it for the investment division of a major estate agency to contact their sales division and attempt to work out a good deal on behalf of minority owners who wish to remain in the vicinity?

I can only hope Bedok Court will take the high road, and not the bulldozer road (ie bulldoze through everyone until you obtain 80% then bulldoze the minority completely).

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having blog or forum to update Subsidiary Propritors on the progress which should be the responsibility of the Protem SC if there is nothing fishy. The only problem will be the SC purposely block the sensitive information which related to the indication value of the property which mislead the subsidiary proprietor to sell his flat to the Sales Committee. Therefore, the SC must declare that it must be done transparently and openly without greed and fair playing ground, I welcome this method of enboc collective sales for all private estates. Keep up the ggod job. Thumb up.

From: Thomson View Condominium minority.

Anonymous said...

give you an inch and you want a yard. typical minority mindset.

i say, just concurr with the legislation and let the minority wallow in self-pity

Anonymous said...

It's my view that in some cases the eventual buyer , enbloc lawyer and property agent join hands early on in the process to dupe the SC and the owners into selling their estate cheaply. How to prove it? Don't know. The SC should strive to be open every inch of the way, not just for the minority's sake but for the majority and eventually themselves, too. When things go wrong, how strong is their indemnity? Will it protect them from criminal charges? Don't think so. In the end, it's all about integrity. How ethically have they acted, how honest have they been.

Anonymous said...

>>give you an inch and you want a yard. typical minority mindset.<<

The yard is just so that it's at least closer to the meter that the majority has.

And if you don't get that metaphor, it just means that the amendments have clearly pointed out that there are problems with existing laws and existing pro-sale mindsets that behave more like thugs in bullying and forcing the sale through!

Anonymous said...

"transparent Sales Comm", be fair to post up everything.... Oh, there's a upcoming seminar on En Bloc Sale Legislation. Anyone got an ideas about this

Dr Minority said...

Re "upcoming seminar" - if you're referring to the Ahrals seminar which was previously held, I guess you'll have to wait for future announcements from them. FYI the seminar was not free (I believe it cost several hundred dollars).

rebelrouser said...

I have just scoured through the SLTA .
S84A(9)specifically provides that STB may not approve the sale application IF
a) the transaction was NOT in good faith and that takes into consideration :
i) sale price for the lots and common property
ii) method of distribution of the proceeds of sale
iii) relationship of the purchaser to any of the proprietors

b) sale and purchase agreement would require any owner who has not agreed in writing the sale to be a party to any arrangement for the development.

NOW that provision would be the one we anti-enbloccers might just take advantage of if the SC , agents or management consultants or the owners who wish us to sell do not observe all the strict rules required in the Act.

No one seem to be keen to look at alternative ways of compensation or sale other than cash. What about exchange for new units and cash?

HOw well are the valuation made by consultants and what are the methods of dissemination of information , is vital to constitute 'good faith'.

HOw the sale price are established .The method of distribution is probably an area that needs meticulous scrutiny.Hence the proposed amendments are there to further the cause. But this is certainly an aspect that one could take to court for better adjudication.However I fear most judges would just look at current market practice rather than improvise or introduce prescient ways of equitable pricing or distribution.

A sound SC team need to work closely with the agents to establish a clear line of communication to keep both sellers and dissenters informed throughout the process. Transparency can only mean unhampered, unbiased communication between all parties and dissenters need to be informed too.
Anti-bloccers would not know when to file their objection unless the SC informs or announces the date to all owners for example.

I think everyone ought to keep a diary and record of all the activities in their block once there is any sign or rumour of en-bloc. These are vital evidence for objection under S84A.

Dr Minority said...

>>NOW that provision would be the one we anti-enbloccers might just take advantage of if the SC , agents or management consultants or the owners who wish us to sell do not observe all the strict rules required in the Act.<<

Which provision are you referring to? Clause (b) about SPA?

>>No one seem to be keen to look at alternative ways of compensation or sale other than cash. What about exchange for new units and cash?<<

Agreed. The problems, as SK Phang would highlight are manifold:- (a) Your estate must have enough development potential for an exchange to work (ie it must not have been maximised in terms of plot ratio etc) (b) you need 100% consensus (c) logistical and legal nightmares from to-ing and fro-ing between developer and buyer as owners try to have a say on the new development's plans etc. That's why people take the easy way out - straight cash. It's not to say it's impossible, just that it's hard. Exchange models that are implemented in countries like Seoul are equally and highly problematic, so to import those in is to risk replacing one bad problem with another.

"Good faith" is a highly contested matter, and I think most lawyers are now slugging it out on this grounds (since financial loss is now clearly defined). It remains to be seen which astute lawyer is willing to argue in court over methods of distribution and valuation matters (although STB did point out that these 2 are the most objected matters by minority owners).

>>HOw the sale price are established .The method of distribution is probably an area that needs meticulous scrutiny.<<
The way this is done is STB will look at an independent valuation document by a conveyancing firm (eg Colliers etc) and if the firm finds no issue with the method of distribution and sale price, STB is not likely to argue back on it. However, (a) marketing agents have favourite firms that they'd contact which would give reports that are unproblematic (b) I find it odd that the valuation of the sale price is often pretty close to the actual price, with little variation. Unless minority owners are able to obtain valuation reports that differ markedly, it'll be hard to argue on this ground. Method of distribution - there are a number of methods approved by the Singapore Institute of Surveyors comprising share values alone, average of share values/strata area, general valuation, combination of general valuation and share value. If any different method is to be proposed it should come from these guys - the SISV.

>>Anti-bloccers would not know when to file their objection unless the SC informs or announces the date to all owners for example.<<
By law, they have 21 days from the day of advertisement of the sale in the 4 major newspapers to submit their objection. The agent/lawyers are required to send all such documents including the form for objection to all owners including minority owners.

And yes, everyone ought to keep a diary. I'm in the process of building up a survival's guide to enbloc sale which will incorporate this but it'll take time for me to get this done (work work work! REAL work!) :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dr M. Minority owners minus a little more 'LOW ESTEEM".

Anonymous said...

I believe there are those that want to take the high road to ensure that there is proper due process and that no one bulldozes the process to force out the minorities.

We need to however recognise that these well-intentioned individuals are not paid a single cent more than the rest yet have to put up with those that continually cast doubts and aspersions.

Would you volunteer to record minutes, answer blogs and address queries from everyone? This alone is a full time job!

Anonymous said...

Please visit this:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/1-For-1-Exchange-for-En-Blocs/166026646789636?ref=ts