Brokers wait to receive calls from buyers who think they have found a good deal. In fact, the accommodations listed are occupied or unavailable.
Brokers will notify clients of other properties offering nearby locations, similar amenities and better prices. Even if no purchase is made, they will disclose buyers’ phone numbers, opening buyers up to constant calls.
For almost a year, Hung invested around VND12 billion ($495,000) in his rental complex in Hanoi’s Ba Vi district. Recently, he saw a post on a real estate group’s page listing his property as being for sale at a comparatively lower market price. Its place was also highlighted on one of the classified real estate ads.
Posing as a buyer, he called the number listed on the ad. The broker said the house was being sold for 20% less than the original sticker, but it had been purchased.
The broker also shared land with Hung for homestays more than five kilometers away.
“I told the broker that I owned the house and therefore it should not be listed for sale. As people I know can also read the ad, they are wondering about my condition because they thought I ‘had gone bankrupt,’ he said.
One of his neighbors experienced a similar situation. Hoai, 35, a two-year resident of a villa in an urban area west of Hanoi, also expressed frustration when friends sent her messages saying her house was available for purchase on the page of a real estate group.
The listing price was about VND3 billion lower than vacant or incomplete neighboring properties. She immediately called the number listed on the ad and warned the broker that he would not post photos of her house without permission.
The broker apologized and said the photos were for illustrative purposes only, as the house was in an attractive location. It was also the completed unit compared to surrounding units. The broker also mentioned that the price reduction was intended to “attract buyers” and later removed the listing.
A few weeks later, a broker in another real estate classifieds section listed his house for sale again.
The Vietnam Association of Real Estate Agents observed that real estate agents would use tactics such as price reduction and current owners facing financial difficulties to trap buyers. Some even use strategies that allow customers to consistently make deposits to encourage transactions.
At a recent summit on real estate digitalization, Pham Lam, CEO of DKRA Group, said the biggest challenge in the market is the lack of monitoring of real estate information, making it easy to deceive buyers. He gave the example of a townhouse whose market price is VND10 billion, but is only VND9 billion when advertised by brokers.
“This tactic prevents people with genuine demand from approaching the property the way they wanted to. It also decreases their trust in the information provided by real estate agents,” Lam said.
Experts from the Association of Real Estate Agents also acknowledged that fines are low for brokers providing false real estate information, between 10 million and 25 million dong.
They recommended that there be legally binding mechanisms; for example, brokers should be required to hold a professional certificate and should not be allowed to carry out spontaneous and unsupervised transactions.