Brokers falsely listing houses for 'stop-loss' buys

By Ngoc Diem   September 16, 2023 | 08:32 pm PT
Brokers falsely listing houses for 'stop-loss' buys
Villas in Hanoi's Hoai Duc District. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Many real estate brokers are falsely using "stop-loss" tags to attract buyers in struggling times.

The brokers wait to receive calls from buyers, who believe they have come across a good deal. In fact, the homes listed are occupied or unavailable.

Brokers will tell customers about other properties with the plug nearby location, similar facilities, and better pricing. Even if no purchase is made, they will leak the phone numbers of the buyers, opening the latter up to constant calls.

For almost a year, Hung invested around VND12 billion ($495,000) into his resort-for-rent in Hanoi's Ba Vi district. Recently, he saw a post on a real estate group page listing his property as for sale at a comparatively lower market price. His place was also highlighted on one of the real estate classifieds.

Posing as a buyer, he dialed the number on the ad. The broker said the house is being sold at a price 20% lower than the original tag, but it has been bought.

The broker also shared with Hung an area of land for homestays more than five kilometers away.

"I told the broker I own the house, so it should not be listed for sale. Since people I know can also read the ad, they wonder about my state as they thought I had gone bankrupt," he said.

One of his neighbors had a similar situation. Hoai, 35, for two years the resident of a villa in an urban area west of Hanoi, also expressed frustration when friends sent messages saying her house was available for purchase on a real estate group page.

The listing price was about VND3 billion lower than neighboring vacant or incomplete properties. She immediately dialed the number on the ad and warned the broker about posting pictures of her house without permission.

The broker apologized and said the photos were only for illustrative purposes, since the house was in an appealing location. It was also the completed unit when compared to the surrounding ones. The broker also mentioned the price reduction detail was to "attract buyers" and afterward removed the ad.

Weeks later, a broker on a different real estate classified section would again list her house for sale.

The Vietnam Association of Realtors observed that realtors would use tactics like price reduction and saying the current owners are facing financial strain to trap buyers. Some even use strategies for clients to consistently make deposits to encourage transactions.

At a recent summit about digitizing real estate, Pham Lam, CEO of DKRA Group, said the market’s biggest challenge is the lack of monitoring for real estate information, causing buyers to be tricked with ease. He gave an example of a townhouse with a market price of VND10 billion, but is only at VND9 billion when advertised by brokers.

"This tactic causes people with actual demand unable to approach property the way they intended. It also decreases their trust in information from realtors," Lam said.

Experts from the Association of Realtors also acknowledged that fines are low for brokers providing false information about real estate, at around VND10-25 million.

They recommended that there should be legally binding mechanisms; for example, brokers should be required to have a professional certificate and not allowed to make spontaneous, unsupervised transactions.

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