THE wife of a senior property agent who bought an apartment through her husband’s subordinate, then quickly sold it for a $257,000 profit, yesterday refuted claims that she had made a ’secret profit’ from the deal.
Madam Natassha Sadiq, 40, told the High Court her purchase of the downtown flat from Mr Yuen Chow Hin and Madam Wong Wai Fan was done on a ‘willing buyer and willing seller’ basis.
Mr Yuen, 50, and Madam Wong, 48, have sued ERA Realty Network to seek profits from the sale and the return of about $7,300 in commission.
They claim their agent did little to market the flat to other buyers, and was in a clear conflict of interest when he sold the unit to his boss’ wife.
In a testimony echoed by her husband, Mr Mike Parikh, Madam Sadiq said there was no secret buyer in waiting when she bought the two-bedroom Keng Cheow Street apartment in mid-2007. Mr Parikh is a senior group division director of ERA.
Madam Sadiq said that in early July last year, her husband told her about The Riverside Piazza unit being marketed by his subordinate, Mr Jeremy Ang.
She made an offer of $685,000 as her identity card number started with ‘685′. She said: ‘I know it sounds a bit crazy, but it’s from my IC number.’
The price was eventually agreed at $688,000. Madam Sadiq said she was granted the right to buy the flat on July 5 last year, but the couple disputed this date as the option was dated July 12.
Madam Sadiq said she then decided to try to sell the apartment as property prices were then ‘roaring’. Two days later, on July 7, the unit was on the market again. This time, it sold for about $945,000.
‘At the time, the market was bullish, and we decided to put up this price. We happened to make a bit of a profit,’ Madam Sadiq said.
Mr Parikh, 44, took the stand after his wife. He said the first sale to his wife and her subsequent resale were separate transactions. He said his subordinate, Mr Ang, called him up on July 5 to tell him that the sale to Madam Sadiq was a ‘done deal’.
The next day, Mr Parikh placed advertisements in The Straits Times for July 7 and July 9. When there was no response, he changed the text, adding ‘en bloc potential’ in a third ad on July 14.
He admitted that he had not actually heard of any plans to sell units at The Riverside Piazza collectively. ‘It’s just a common term that agents use because there were a lot of en blocs going on. The possibility is always there,’ he explained.
On the same day that he placed the third ad, an interested buyer responded. Four days later, Madam Sadiq granted him an option to buy at $945,000.
It was only later that Mr Yuen and Madam Wong found out about the resale.
About the case
MR YUEN Chow Hin and Madam Wong Wai Fan have sued property agency ERA Realty Network for breach of contract and misrepresentation.
In July 2007, the couple, through ERA agent Jeremy Ang, sold their apartment for $688,000.
Unknown to them, the buyer, Madam Natassha Sadiq, was the wife of Mr Ang’s boss. Soon after she was granted the right to buy the property, Madam Sadiq flipped the flat for $945,000.
Mr Yuen and Madam Wong are now seeking from ERA the price difference of $257,000 and the return of about $7,300 in commission.
They claim the agency did not try its best to find more offers and allege that there was conflict of interest.
ERA says it is not liable for the actions of its agents, who are independent contractors. In any case, says the agency, Mr Ang has not breached its code of conduct.
Lawyers for both sides are to make closing arguments next Thursday.
Source: Straits Times - 23 Jan 2009