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Principles to build by

 03/07/2004 Published in NST-PROP A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers Association

The housing industry has come a long way, maturing over the years and offering buyers more than just four walls and a roof. Today's houses come infused with a generous dose of lifestyle considerations that cater to an increasing sophisticated market.

Despite the advances that have been made, house buyers still stand a good chance of being confronted with setbacks. Part of this is due to the present system of delivery, which creates a lucrative business environment that developers have become accustomed to.

Pending the build-then-sell method becoming a reality, the National House Buyers Association believes that developers still have a responsibility to buyers. The following are tenets a good developer should adhere to.

Ensuring good quality

It goes without saying that buyers expect the product to be of a good quality and acceptable standards.

Developers should not resort to cutting costs by under specifying, using inferior materials and engaging unskilled workers.

Timely delivery

Houses should be delivered within the time stipulated in the Sale and Purchase Agreement within 24 months for landed properties and 36 months for the stratified variety. If, for whatever reason there is delay, compensation should be paid immediately to buyers.

Developers should not attempt to shortchange buyers of what is due to them.

Providing amenities, facilities and infrastructure

Developers that provide adequate amenities and facilities such as playgrounds, schools, markets, community halls and police stations are not only fulfilling the obligations imposed by local authorities, but also their social responsibilities to society.

Prompt application for CFs and strata titles

It is the duty and responsibility of the developers to apply and obtain the Certificates of Fitness for Occupation (CF) and strata titles. Developers should not deliberately neglect applying for a project's CF and each unit's strata titles, which are buyers' final proof of ownership.

Sound management of stratified and gated communities

It is not uncommon to hear of feuding between owners and developers or their managing agents over management/maintenance and/or service charges in the context of stratified projects. Developers undertaking such projects must adopt proper accounting standards and be transparent in their dealings with owners. Pending the issuance of strata titles, developers should invite owners/residents to participate in the management of the project.

Encouraging community living

Developers should encourage the formation of residents' associations. This practice is not new in the industry. Some developers have even gone to the extent of making monetary contributions to ensure that such associations are established. Others provide the facilities for residents to meet.

Honesty's the best policy

Developers should adopt a policy of disclosure and divulge all information that is in the interest of their buyers instead of adopting the attitude which puts he entire onus of obtaining information on buyers. No doubt buyers are expected to do their homework but unfortunately, there is no learning curve to speak of when purchasing a property since few make more than one acquisition in their lifetime. Developers with social conscience should not take advantage of this situation.

Good communication practices

The lines of communication between buyers and developers should always be open. This isn't only to the benefit of buyers but also developers for the following reasons:

  • Buyers can be informed of ongoing and future projects;
  • It complements a developer's move to be more transparent and accountable in its management of stratified projects; and
  • It allows a developer to resolve whatever problems it may have with its buyers directly rather than than through the media, which may be potentially detrimental to a developer's image and reputation.

Winning over buyers' confidence

Developers that have earned buyers' confidence enjoy benefits and advantages that extend beyond quick take-up of their offerings. These developers have established their own brand names, with loyal purchasers actively promoting their products by word of mouth.

Innovation

A good developer is motivated by innovation. It does its research and development to further improve and add value to its products for the benefit of buyers.

 

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