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Property agent commission in Singapore: How much should I pay?

June 11, 2018

A good property agent more than deserves his/her commission, but many buyers and sellers are often unsure about how much to pay. So do landlords and tenants. Truth is, there are many factors that determine property agent commission in Singapore; even seasoned sellers, buyers and renters can become confused about industry standards.

So, here’s our guide to help you be absolutely sure about the commission you should pay for any type of property transaction, be it selling, buying or renting as a landlord or tenant.

To understand property agent commission in Singapore, we first need to know there are two types of agents.

Landlord’s/Seller’s Agent

This is any property agent appointed by the landlord or seller to market a unit. This agent:

  • Strategises the promotion and presentation of the unit
  • Sources for buyers/tenants through various means (e.g. putting up a listing on Singapore’s largest property portal, 99.co)
  • Schedules and manages the viewing process with prospective buyers
  • Advises and represents the landlord/seller in the negotiation and bidding process once there are one or more interested parties
  • Ensures that proper and necessary procedures (e.g. legal and regulatory requirements) are executed and adhered to throughout

A CEA*-registered property agent representing the landlord/tenant is obliged to have his/her client’s best interests at heart.

*CEA stands for the Council for Estate Agencies — the regulatory body of property agents in Singapore

Buyer/Tenant’s Agent

This is any property agent who assists a potential tenant or buyer in the following:

  • Search and selection of properties
  • Coordination of viewings
  • Negotiation with Seller/Landlord’s Agent in the Buyer/Tenant’s best interests

The Buyer/Tenant’s Agent also provides valuable input in the form of professional advice (e.g. location) and guides the them through the proper process of buying or renting a property, including the necessary paperwork.

Similarly, a CEA-registered property agent representing the landlord/tenant is obliged to have his/her client’s best interests at heart.

Agents are not legally allowed to be both the Landlord’s/Seller’s Agent and the Tenant’s/Buyer’s Agent in a single deal, as this will present a conflict of interest.

For rental cases, the Landlord’s Agent (and sometimes the Tenant’s Agent) often assists the landlord and tenant throughout the period of the lease with regard to any maintenance issues and disputes, although he/she is not obliged to do so.

What is a co-broke? (also known as co-brokering)

This describes a situation where two agents agree to broker a deal together, one as a Landlord’s Agent and the other as the Tenant’s Agent.

Property agent using a calculator, blended with cityscape for calculating commission

How much should you be paying your property agents?

RENTING: Common practices for property agent commission in Singapore

Although there are no universal, industry-standard rental commission rates imposed here, there are industry best practices — based on several experienced property agents that we spoke to. However, take note that the commission rates may vary depending on situational factors such as the urgency and complexity of the deals. Prospective landlords/tenants should inquire with the relevant agents to understand the rationale behind their requested commission rates if they differ from the below.

1. Above $3500 in rent & a 2-year lease – landlord pays 1 month’s rental, tenant doesn’t pay

» If there’s only a Landlord’s Agent (i.e. the tenant contacted the Landlord’s Agent on his/her own), the landlord pays the Landlord’s Agent one-month commission, which he/she keeps. The tenant pays no commission.

» If the renter has a Tenant’s Agent who assisted the tenant and represents his interest, the landlord pays the Landlord’s Agent one-month commission. The Landlord’s Agent then splits the commission with the Tenant’s Agent. The tenant pays no commission.

2. Above $3500 in rent & a 1-year lease – landlord pays half a month’s rental

» If there’s only a Landlord’s Agent (i.e. the tenant contacted the Landlord’s Agent on his/her own), the landlord pays the Landlord’s Agent half a month’s commission, which he/she keeps. The tenant pays no commission.

» If the renter has a Tenant’s Agent who assisted the tenant and represents his interest, the tenant pays the Tenant’s Agent half a month’s commission, while the landlord pays the Landlord’s Agent half a month’s commission.

3. At or below $3500 in rent & a 2-year lease

» Landlord’s Agent collects a one-month commission from the landlord.

» Tenant’s agent collects a one-month commission from tenant. If there’s no Tenant’s Agent, the tenant doesn’t pay any commission.

4. At or below $3500 in rent & a 1-year lease

» Landlord’s Agent collects half a month’s commission from the landlord.

» If the tenant has a Tenant’s Agent, the Tenant’s Agent collects half a month’s rental from the tenant (if there’s no Tenant’s Agent, tenant doesn’t pay).

** NO FIXED RULES ** 

It’s important to remember that these are just common practices, there is no hard and fast rule on whether the landlord or tenant should be paying their agents and how much. It all depends on the situation and how much the tenant/landlord needs the services of the agents. Some notable exception cases include:

» Unique or in-demand properties (e.g. a unique well-priced shophouse): the landlord’s agent can potentially demand that he does not “share commission” because there is plenty of demand.

» Lower-end rental properties (e.g. room rentals below $1k) – the landlord’s agent may not be able to get the landlord to pay him commission even though he may be marketing the property on the landlord’s behalf (in lower-end rentals, the tenant may not have as much of a choice and thus negotiation-power), so the agent has no choice but to collect commissions from tenants. Technically, they would be switching roles to become the tenant’s agent and should be acting in the tenant’s best interest.

SELLING/BUYING: Common practices for property agent commission in Singapore

 1. Non-landed private properties (e.g. condos)

» Sellers pays usually 2% (sometimes up to 4%)

» Buyers pays nothing regardless of whether using a Buyers’ Agent or not. Seller’s Agent splits commission with Buyer’s Agent.

2. HDB resale flats

» Sellers pays 2% commission usually

» Buyers pay 1% commission usually

3. Landed properties

» Sellers pays usually 2% (sometimes much higher; more room to negotiate as situations tend to be more unique)

» Buyers pays nothing regardless of whether using a Buyers’ Agent or not. Seller’s Agent splits commission with Buyer’s Agent.

** NO FIXED RULES ** 

Similar to rental commission, again there are no fixed rules on commission and everything is negotiable depending on the situation. The commissions structure on buying properties is usually even more negotiable as situation tend to be even more unique. Notable exceptions include:

» Commissions paid by sellers can go a lot higher as well if the seller is in more urgent state of affairs, or if the property is harder to sell.

» Commissions demanded by buyer’s agent may sometimes be much higher as well, especially if the buyer’s agent is representing an overseas buyer and doing a lot more work to help the buyer make a decision (doubling up as investment advisors). Some agents representing buyers from Hong Kong or China may demand up to 5% commission, from what we have heard. In these instances, it would be up to the seller to decide if he is willing to offer that to close the deal.

» In many cases, and especially in luxury property segment (e.g. above $5m), there can be tiered commission schemes that incentives the seller’s agent to get a higher price – such as “2% commissions on minimum $5M sale price, if closing price above $5M, additional 5% of the selling price”, just as an example.

As a seller/buyer of a property, how do I save on commission?

If you reckon you want to try saving on property agent commission in Singapore by selling or buying a property without an agent, think again. Property, being one of the most expensive decisions you make in your lifetime, demands a thorough knowledge of specialised law and regulations. On top of that, property agents have knowledge and experience in negotiation, and can successfully go toe to toe with an opposing agent.

On the other hand, representing yourself can result in a messy and slow transaction at best, and costly legal entanglements and monetary loss at worst.

In any case, do compare commission fees and services offered by different property agents before deciding to appoint one or more. An Seller’s Agent may also seek Exclusive Rights, a legal agreement to become your sole property agent in marketing and selling your property. For more information, read our article on When should you appoint an exclusive property agent?

What if I’m a landlord or tenant? Are agents a must?

If you’re a landlord, having a Landlord’s Agent can save you from a whole lot of headaches. A Landlord’s Agent has experience in not just finding but screening out potentially bad tenants, and may be able to help you deal with tenant issues along the way (depending on agreed upon responsibilities with the agent).

If you’re a tenant and can afford the time to search and arrange viewings for a rental property yourself, you could choose to forgo a Tenant’s Agent. In this case, our advice is to always find a Landlord who’s represented by a Landlord’s Agent as there has been countless cases of devious landlords taking flight with a tenant’s deposit, or sudden and unfair evictions. Even if the lease is only for a year, having an property agent on either or both sides is peace of mind.

Voice your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook community page.

 

If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends Everything to know about private condo payment schedule and 3 psychological effects you’ll experience as a first time homeowner

Looking for a property? Find your dream home on Singapore’s largest property portal 99.co!

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50 Comments

  • Reply The Tenant's Agent - 99.co June 24, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    […] one of our previous blog posts, we stated that there’re two types of property agents in the rental market – landlords’ […]

  • Reply Elaine Yap August 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Hi, I am a landlord renting out my apartment. Do I have to pay my agent if he did not turn up for the appt? The tenant agent came and successfully closed the deal. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Elaine. It’s not just about showing up for the appointment or not. It depends upon the type of agreement you (as a landlord) had with your agent. For example, if you had an exclusive agreement- the agent gets paid no matter who found the tenant. On the other hand, in non-exclusive agreement- whichever agent founds the tenant, gets paid. If the landlord, finds his own tenant, the agent doesn’t get paid. So, in a nutshell, if you had a non-exclusive agreement with the agent you are talking about and found that tenant yourself, the agent won’t get paid in any means. I hope this helps otherwise please feel free to get in touch with us again 🙂

  • Reply Michael I. September 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Hi Marissa,
    sorry I have not been notified about your comment. Please do! I’ve done lots of research and your article is the only source of truth I’ve found.

    • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Michael, thanks for leaving such a nice appreciation for Marissa. I will surely notify her about this if she missed the comment. Thanks and we hope you would keep visiting our articles!

  • Reply oakley sunglasses cheap November 2, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for another wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

    • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      We are glad that you find our articles wonderful 🙂 What further information you are seeking? You can try searching on our blog (with the the help of search option), may be you can find something what you are looking for. I hope you had a nice presentation. Please don’t hesitate to get back to us if you have any further questions. Thank you

  • Reply Ali November 4, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    My agent is asking half month rent plus tax applicable on this commission. Also, stamp duty. Could you please guide if agent is charging the correct amount especially tax which agent ia saying is 7% which I shall be paying for his company. Please guide me quick.

    • Reply mariel November 12, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Hi Ali, yes you will need to pay for tax which is customary in Singapore. If you have any more questions, do drop us an email at [email protected] for prompt replies. Hope this helps! (:

  • Reply DARREN BSK December 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    this is good…informative….good job

    • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Darren. It’s happy to know that you like our articles and the website, we are just trying to be the best portal in Singapore in terms of transparency and easiness in finding a new home. If you are still searching for homes to rent or sale in Singapore, let’s do that for you as our team can find the options suitable for you free of cost!

  • Reply Wahlin February 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    is it normal for agents to collect commission first before they even start provide any service to us.

    • Reply Jamal March 23, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Hello Wahlin, it is NOT normal for agents to collect commission first before they even start provide any service to us. The commission is AFTER the deal is done. (If any 99.co agent tried to ask you for a commission before the deal, we would appreciate to report us. Our aim is to make 99.co, the best and transparent portal in Singapore to help you find the home you’ll love). Please feel free to get in touch with us again!

  • Reply MJ February 27, 2016 at 6:33 am

    If after my lease ends and I re-sign a new agreement to stay in the same apartment, do agents get paid the same fee again? I fall in the “below $3500 in rent & 2-year lease” category and paid my tenant agent a full month’s rent for the initial contract.

    • Reply Jamal March 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      Hi MJ, apologies for replying so late. So here it is, as per the article we wrote above. If you have a case below $3,500 in rent and 2 years of lease, then you might need to pay the agent’s fee equivalent to ‘full one month’s rent’. Actually, there are no rules on it. The agent will ask you for it but if you can reach the landlord directly, you don’t need to. Hope this helps otherwise please, feel free to get in touch with us again.

      • Reply Abby August 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

        What if the agent sneaks in a clause in the original contract after we agree with the landlord to rent the place. Clause that says we have to engage them for lease renewal and have to pay fees again?

        • Reply Adam R. August 3, 2016 at 2:29 pm

          Hi Abby,

          That is an unethical practice. First of all, it is advisable not to sign off on the revised contract.

          Do you still have the original tenancy agreement with signatures of both you and your landlord? That should suffice in honouring the agreement established between you, the agent and the landlord.

          Regards.
          Adam R.

  • Reply alax March 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Hi, thanks for the info. Can I check about the following scenario? My niece is in the process of renting a room. She has to pay the agent fees to the agent she found online but after meeting the landlord, the landlord disclosed that he’s also paying the agent fees to another agent (who is also the husband of my niece’s agent). The two agents are husband and wife doing a co-broking. In this scenario, does it count as double-charging and if the agents are against the law to charge both sides? Thanks for your clarification.

    • Reply Jamal March 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Alax. Let’s try to simplify this problem. You have a niece and she in the process of renting a room. She is paying agent fees to the agent from her side. This is correct, legal and makes sense. On the other hand, the landlord is also paying agent fees from his/her side. This is also correct, legal and makes sense. So, on both sides there are different agents and this is how the system works 🙂 What matters here is that one agent cannot represent the both sides, buyer/tenant and seller/landlord. (It doesn’t matter that the agents are husband-wife or in a relation). I am sorry for replying so late. Fore more information you can visit our another article touching this topic at https://www.99.co/blog/singapore/the-tenants-agent/ Hope this helps and please feel free to get in touch with us again if you have any further doubts or questions.

  • Reply Jason March 10, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    My is agent is asking us to pay the stamp duty and agent fee before he hand us over the contract.
    Should we agree or wait for the agent to give us the contract before we pay for the agent fee?

    • Reply Jamal March 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Jason, apologies for the late reply. Here is the answer to your question. Rule of the thumb says that the stamp duty is to be paid by the buyer within 14 days AFTER the date of the document (e.g. Sale and Purchase Agreement, Tenancy Agreement) if the document is signed in Singapore. If the document is signed overseas, it has to be paid within 30 days AFTER date of its receipt in Singapore. So, first, you should have your contact, then AFTER it and within 14 days, you should pay your stamp duty. For more information on this, you can read our article on Stamp Duty: https://www.99.co/blog/singapore/what-is-the-stamp-duty/ Hope this helps and please feel free to get in touch with us again if you need more information.

  • Reply Reha June 6, 2016 at 11:57 am

    I responded to an online advertisement for a room rental. Spoke to a lady and she gave me details of the room and owner’s(her brother) contact for viewing. After the viewing, the owner asked me to contact the lady if I needed anything else. Same night, she msg and I told her I was interested but I need some time to prepare my school’s documentation before signing the agreement.
    I was puzzled when she asked me to include payment of $300 for her services. Can you please advise me at which point did I start to use her service without my acknowledgment ?
    When I questioned her abt it, she said the owner pays $300 and tenant pays $300 for her service. Please enlighten me. Thank you.

    • Reply Adam R. June 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Reha,

      Just to clarify, is the lady in question an agent who is representing the owner’s rental property?

      Here is an article we have that can enlighten you on the structure of payment: https://www.99.co/blog/singapore/commission-property-agents/

      It is advisable at this juncture that you do not provide any payment to the lady or the property owner until all paperwork is finalised and a proper contract is signed.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply Shirley Li June 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Is there a necessity to get a tenancy agreement stamped? Or is it a must to stamp all TA regardless of the rental?

    • Reply Adam R. June 16, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      Hi Shirley,

      It is best that you get it stamped so as to ascertain that the contract is binding.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply Lim July 26, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hi,
    If I rent 18 months ,how much do I need to pay agent fee?

    • Reply Adam R. July 28, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Lim,

      I’m assuming you’re a tenant? It depends on how much rent you have negotiated to pay per month and whether you have an agent representing you.

      Given that you are renting for 18 months, it can be considered to be almost a two year lease. If the rent you have agreed to pay is less than $3,500 then you will have to food 1 month’s rent (if you have an agent). If the rent is above $3,500, you don’t have to pay anything.

      The best option though is to clarify with both your agent and the landlord on the payment and lease terms.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply DC September 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Hi, if I posted an ad online to rent out my place and an agent contacted me saying they have a client. Do I still need to pay the agent? Is it possible for the owner to act on their own without any agent? Thanks.

    • Reply Adam R. September 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Hi DC,

      You will need to negotiate with the agent to clarify that you do not wish to engage in his services/pay him commission, so as to not have any disagreement.

      With regards to the 2nd point, yes it is possible to rent out your property without an agent.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply OK January 30, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Hi, I wiuld like to chheck can I deal directly with landlord for re-contrct of whole
    Unit reny? I am a tennant though..

    • Reply Adam R. January 31, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Hi OK,

      Yes it is possible to re-contract with the landlord directly if you wish to extend the lease in the same residential premises.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply OK January 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Hi, forgot to mention that currently I sign contract through agent service…thank you for your reply..

  • Reply Suzie Yeo February 15, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Hi,could like to check how if tenants want to renew the contract for another year.This agent is the agent that get tenants for my house,how much do I need to pay the agent for the renewal fee.

  • Reply Heidi March 6, 2017 at 2:38 am

    Can I discharge a agent when I renew the tenancy. I m the landlord and the tenant has an agent representing them. My agent has not done his job to help in negotiating with the tenant or looking into the maintenance of air cons and others. Instead only interested to ask for commission. This the 3rd year of renewal and I have to remind my agent to check if the tenant will renew the lease. Please advise if I can discharge my agent and how? Can I use a different agent since the tenant has his agent?

    • Reply Adam R. March 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Heidi,

      Yes, it should be possible. You’ll just have to mention to your current agent that you’re no longer interested in continuing with his/her service.

      Regards,
      Adam R.

  • Reply Suzie Yeo March 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Hi, I rented my 3 room flat out for 7 months, and the washing sink stuck and water could not flow,tenants told me is my flat problem. Yes, before rent there is problem of the sink but I already get plumber to change the pipe and the sink water was flowing well. Now tenants stay for 7 months and the washing sink problem came back so tenants insist that mi must pay to the plumber,please help do I need to pay or should be the user who should pay.

  • Reply P Seller October 8, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Adam
    If I have a landed property to be sold by the agent with a realistic price about $2.7 million is it reasonable to negotiate 1.5% commission for the $2.7 m and say 3 % for any additional sale price of $200K as incentive for the premium additional sales.
    What do you think? it would mean $ 49K compared to a straight 1.5% of #2.9 m which is $43.5 K.

    But if paying 2% for #2.9 M will be $58 K commission

    Is it a trade secret on the split between the agent organization and the agent individual on sharing of commission?

    • Reply Krristy Lam October 17, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Dear P Seller,

      It should be noted that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the percentage of commission that is accorded to seller’s agents. It is up to you to negotiate and agree on a percentage that is acceptable to you and your agent. To safeguard both your interests, the agreed upon commission should also be filled in the Estate Agency Agreement for the Sale of Residential Property form which can be downloaded from the CEA website.

      All the best in the sale of your property!

      Cheers,
      Krristy

  • Reply Jon Lee November 2, 2017 at 1:08 am

    Hi, I am a landlord and am close to renting out my place at $3500+/2yr contract. I agreed to paying one months rent to my broker already. The broker now wants me to sign a contract to pay an additional month rent as commission if there is a 24 month renewal at the end of two years. This sounds expensive. What is standard? Do most landlord/tenants negotiate directly at this point and not pay commission? Since the tenant is not paying commission, he/she has little incentive to exclude the broker. Are both the buy side and sell side broker sharing the renewal commission?

  • Reply John Ackers November 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    There is no obligation to sign at this stage. This will enable you to engage another broker at the end of the current lease if you are not satisfied witb the current broker’s service. So dont sign and keep the current broker in his toes.

    • Reply wynn November 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply Kenneth November 26, 2017 at 11:18 am

    If I found the agent and the listing online myself, am I required to pay the tenant’s agent’s fee? Can agents demand for it?

    Thanks
    Kenneth

    • Reply Krristy Lam November 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Hi Kennth,

      Please refer to our blog article below for steps to follow in order to establish a transparent and amicable relationship with your property agent.

      https://www.99.co/blog/singapore/happy-property-consumer-follow-6-steps/

      You may wish to note that the agent you found online cannot represent both you and the landlord. Should you wish to appoint a tenant’s agent to represent your interests for the duration of your tenancy, please be sure to work out the commission structure and put it down in black and white before proceeding further.

      Thank you!

      Best wishes,
      Krristy

      • Reply Kenneth November 27, 2017 at 12:02 pm

        Hello Krristy,

        Thank you for your reply, Just to confirm even I was the one who found them on their posts. They have the right to demand for agent’s fee?

        • Reply Krristy Lam November 28, 2017 at 5:34 pm

          Hi Kenneth,

          You may wish to work out them (the tenant’s agent) the scope of their duties and responsibilities to you before agreeing on a commission due to them.

          As we have mentioned in the article, there are certainly no fixed rules to adhere to.

          Good luck!
          Krristy

  • Reply wynn November 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    So if there is no seller’s agent and the buyer comes direct to me with his agent, then I only pay 1% to the buyer’s agent?

    • Reply Krristy Lam November 28, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Wynn,

      Please refer to point 3 in this blog article.

      As a rule of thumb, there are no fixed rules with regards to commission percentages, and any commission due is privately negotiated.

      If you’re marketing and selling your own HDB flat, the buyer’s agent’s commission will be paid for by the buyer. A different scenario applies for the sale of private property.

      Do keep in mind that the buyer’s agent represents the buyer’s interest, and not yours. In such a case, you may wish to appoint your own seller’s agent to represent your interest in the transaction. An agent cannot both represent the seller and buyer.

      When in doubt, please refer to CEA for best practices needed to facilitate a smooth property transaction.

      Good luck!

      Best regards,
      Krristy

  • Reply varun reddy December 8, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Hello,

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for the neatly carved article. I have a situation, where we engaged the agent 2 years ago. We paid the agent fees for the 1st year, then he put a clause stating that we need to pay the agent fees for the second year if we renew the contract. We paid the agent fees for the second year as well. Now we are planning to renew our contract for the third year, even though we talk to our owner’s agent directly on anything he is insisting that we pay the agent fees for 3rd year renewal. Is it legal for agent to turn up at the end of every year and ask agent fees?

    • Reply Krristy Lam December 14, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Hi Varun,

      Commission structure is mutually discussed and agreed upon between the agent and his/her clients. There’re no laws governing that.

      Regards,
      Krristy

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