5. I want to buy a flat. What services can I expect and what information can I obtain from the agent who shows me a flat?
The agent should:
- Provide you with the necessary information about the flat (see below);
- Arrange for you to inspect the flat;
- Arrange for negotiations with the vendor;
- Pass on all your offers to the vendor (see below);
- Help you negotiate and sign the provisional agreement with the vendor.
With regard to point (a) above, the necessary information includes: current ownership, floor area, encumbrances (e.g. any existing mortgage or repairing order), any existing tenancy, year of completion, use restriction (e.g. residential, industrial or other use), any previous additions or alteration work done by the vendor, the lease term (lease period) of the relevant government lease/grant, etc.
Further to point (d) above, in case your agent hears about or receives a higher offer from another potential purchaser, your agent must inform you about such offer immediately (since you may wish to make a higher revised offer). If your agent fails to do so, you may sue him/her for compensation.
You can also obtain the details of your target flat from the Property Information Form (also called "Form 1") which is completed by the vendor and the vendor's agent. Note 4 of this Form has stipulated, "A licensed estate agent is required to provide to a purchaser the original or copy of the completed Form unless the purchaser specifically waives his right to receive the same". For more information about this Form, please go back to question 2.
It is very important that the agent is honest with you and the agent should always act in your best interest.