HSR International Realtors fined $12,500

Property agency HSR International Realtors has been fined $12,500 and banned from marketing foreign properties for six months from Sept 10, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) said yesterday.

The firm was convicted of two charges of breaching CEA's guidelines for failing to provide a written advisory to two investors to draw their attention to risks involved in buying units in a Bangkok condominium project that was later abandoned by the developer.

In HSR's case, the two investors had purchased a unit each in the Manhattan Park Peninsular condo project in Bangkok in 2014 through the agency.

They paid a refundable $3,000 booking fee and 30 per cent of the purchase price a few days later after executing the sales and purchase (S&P) agreement. One investor paid $32,000 while the other forked out $20,327.

The HSR agents, who were appointed by the developer, had breached CEA's guidelines on several fronts before the execution of the S&P agreement.

Among other things, they did not provide a written advisory to the two buyers that they must conduct due diligence, or draw their attention to risks for foreign property buyers and that their transactions are subject to foreign laws and to any change in policies and rules in Thailand.

HSR also did not tell one of the investors that the S&P agreement did not contain a dispute resolution mechanism or a jurisdiction for the resolution of disputes.

Both investors were later informed that the developer had abandoned the Manhattan project and they were offered units in other developments instead. The first investor rejected the offer and did not get a refund. The second investor accepted the offer, paying an additional $5,000 for payment of 30 per cent of the replacement unit's purchase price.