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Beware of the ‘Token Money’ Trap, A Caution for Overseas Pakistanis

We have recently received a lot of complaints from overseas Pakistanis that once they set out to sell their property or buy property in Pakistan , they are approached by property agents who often try to manipulate the sale price of the offering by :

(a) placing token money worth peanuts and binding the property for their sale only.In most cases they will pretend they are buying the property for themselves.The main basis of such an action is to sabotage and control a piece of property in order to make a neat portion of commercial gains in terms of commission and also to get money in cash for the token money from the actual purchaser hence making a sizeable profit by not declaring this money to the actual property owner.

(b) the second thing we have noticed mostly is that some unscrupulous property agents will steal the pictures of your property which you list online and place a similar listing with a smaller price on a search engine.In Pakistan and Abroad people mostly turn to Zameen.com and other local property listings for double-checking quoted prices for properties.The confusion that follows the same property listed for different amounts of money only serves to benefit the property dealer who will then call you with an offer he received through the use of your properties pictures.
We have, on many occasions taken action against such property dealers by speaking to the friendly team of Zameen.com but when one listing goes down many more can come up.

(c) The Tax Excuse and Double Agreements : If you are selling a property for a certain amount of money,a dealer may ask you for making double agreements for the ‘purchaser’ for a lesser amount for the tax authorities.I cannot stress enough on the ethical and financial dangers of doing the same.

Our final advice: Please always try to stick to one property dealer or real estate firm who you trust.Often seeing that listings are free and property dealers will take on your sale without any payment or agreement, overseas Pakistanis end up creating multiple listings and contacting multiple sales agents thus exposing their property to a risk of being sabotaged.Always sign a proper legal agreement with one property dealer and if possible compensate them for their effort while detailing beforehand what they can do and cannot do to your property.It is better safe to be sorry and to lose hundreds of thousands of rupees or even millions, when trusting unprofessional and unethical people to handle the sale of your property.With the influx of educated people into the real estate field in Pakistan, we have no doubt met some really professional dealers in the past.However the majority of complaints we get from Pakistanis abroad having real estate problems are regarding property dealers who sabotaged their commercial interests and delayed their sale without good reason.The way Pakistani law has evolved,  real estate sector disputes rarely make it to courts.On the other side of the picture many local agents feel cheated when they discover that the same person who was asking them to find a buyer or seller has contacted a hundred other agents.Often agents lose out on commission as the overseas or local buyer/seller simply goes ‘direct’ with a potential seller/buyer taking away the bread and butter of the agent who would have worked hard to get the two interested parties together.

Bottom line : Exclusivity is the key to a motivation for good performance.If both sides play fairly, there will be mutual profits and an over-all satisfaction.

The Josh and Mak Team
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