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Singapore property agents commission: what should I pay?

November 27, 2013

Wondering what you should be paying the property agent? We have been asked about how Singapore property agents commission work many times and it is astounding how confusing it can get about the practice around dealing with agents and commissions. Here’s a guide for you!

Singapore Property Agents Commission

First of all, let’s get clarity on the 2 types of agents:

Landlord’s/Seller’s Agent

Any property agent appointed by the landlord or seller to market a unit. This agent provides advice to the home owner on how to strategize the promotion and presentation of the unit to its best advantage, and helps to source for tenants through various means, to put up listings in portals like 99.co, to navigate the negotiation/bidding process (often with multiple interested parties) in the favour of the homeowner. The Landlord’s/Seller’s Agent has (and is obligated to by law) to have the homeowner’s best interests at heart.

Tenant’s/Buyer’s Agent

Any property agent who assists the potential tenant and buyer in the search, selection of properties, coordination of viewings, and negotiation. The tenant’s agent typically provides valuable service in the form of professional advice and helps to negotiate deals in the tenant’s favour as well as to help complete the paperwork and process. Similarly, the Tenant’s/Buyer’s Agent has (and is obligated to by law) to have the tenant’s or buyer’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 rentals, the landlord’s agent and sometimes the tenant’s agent in addition often (but not obliged to), assist the landlord and tenant throughout the period of the stay for any maintenance issues.

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.

***Update (June 24, 2015): See our new blogpost explaining the role of the tenant’s agent.***

Singapore Property Agents Commission - What Should I Pay?

Singapore Property Agents Commission – What Should I Pay?

RENTING: Common practices for Singapore Property Agents Commission

Although there are no universal rental commission rates imposed across the industry, the following are considered best practices as 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. In all cases, prospective tenants should inquire with the relevant agents to understand the rationale behind their requested commission rates.

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 (when the tenant contacted the agent directly), the agent keeps the whole commission.

» If the renter has a Tenant’s Agent who assisted the tenant and represents his interest, the 1 month’s rental is usually split mid-way between the two agents.

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

» If there’s only a Landlord’s Agent, the agent keeps the whole commission.

» 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).

3.) Below $3500 in rent & a 2-year lease

» Landlord’s Agent collects 1 month’s rent from the landlord.

» Tenant’s agent collects 1 month’s from tenant (if there’s no Tenant’s Agent, tenant doesn’t pay).

4.) Below $3500 in rent & a 1-year lease

» Landlord’s Agent collects half a month’s rental 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 landord’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.

BUYING : Common practices for Singapore Property Agents Commission

 1) Private Properties (Condos, apartments, etc.)

» Sellers pays usually 2%  (sometimes up to 5%)

» Buyers pays nothing regardless of whether using a buyers’ agent or not. Buyer’s agent share commission from seller’s agent.

2) HDB Flats

» Sellers pays 2% usually

» Buyers pay 1% usually

3) Landed properties

» Sellers pays usually 2%  (sometimes much higher, more negotiable as situations tend to be more unique)

» Buyers pays nothing regardless of whether using a buyers’ agent or not. Buyer’s agent share commission from seller’s agent.

** NO FIXED RULES ** 

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

» Commissions paid by sellers can go a lot higher as well if the seller is in more urgent or desperate state, 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 (they are often pseudo investment advisers). Some agents representing buyers from Hong Kong or China may demand up to 5% commission, from what we have heard – 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 creative 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 10% of the selling price”, just as an example.

As a buyer/tenant, how do I save on commission?

Before you decide to try to save on Singapore Property Agents Commission, first be sure that you really know what you are doing and you are ready to negotiate for yourself and fend for your own interest. You could save on the commission by representing yourself and dealing directly with the landlord’s/seller’s agent but property is one of the most expensive decisions one would ever make in life (even renting usually takes up 25% of an average persons’ annual income).  If you are not well equipped to negotiate for yourself, it may cost you a lot of time, headache and potentially thousands of dollars in losses.

If you feel equipped to decide for yourself, all you need to do is to make sure you ask the agent “Are you the owner’s agent? Do I have to pay you commission?” when you enquire on a listing to ensure that the agent represents the owner. With that clarified you would generally not need to pay commission if you deal directly with the owner’s agent.

That’s it for Singapore Property Agents Commission, pretty simple actually.

Ready to find the home you’ll love? Go to 99.co!

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40 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?

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