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CASE issues warning on investing in overseas properties

Monday, May 4, 2015 - 11:19
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The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) has issued a warning on investing in foreign properties.

THE Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) has issued a warning on investing in foreign properties.

This comes after it received 13 complaints in 2013 and 2014 from consumers who had purchased property overseas.

Some cases involved loss of more than S$100,000 by the investor.

Most of the complaints involved investors who were unable to get back promised returns or payouts, said the association.

CASE said many investors were lured by promises of high rental yields or high capital growth.

It added that many of the investors were unable to get updates on their investments and, in some cases, lost contact with the property investment company.

Singaporeans have been reported to be one of the top real estate buyers in Asia, noted CASE, which cautioned that investments in unfamiliar markets hold high risks including foreign exchange fluctuations, sovereign risks and interest rate risks.

"The recent warning by analysts from Maybank about the glut of homes in the Iskandar region is a timely reminder to consumers about the potential high risks involved in investing in overseas properties," said the association.

To ensure investors are able to make well-informed decisions, CASE suggested that developers selling foreign properties here provide information fact sheets which include data such as the financial standing of the developer, the developer's obligations and a proper valuation of the property.

Said Lim Biow Chuan, the association's president: "We strongly urge the relevant authorities to review existing legislation to ensure that developers who sell their foreign properties locally abide by the same minimum standards in information disclosure that local developers have to meet."

The developers should commit to "truthful and honest claims and not make misleading or false representations to investors in order to sell their properties", added Mr Lim.