As of 2014, housing policies in Singapore continue to be a hot issue with the growing affluence of the population and the long-standing policy of ensuring home ownership for all Singaporeans. Despite the establishment of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) in 2010, which put in place tighter competition among real estate agents and stricter regulatory rules targeted at cooling the market, ethical concerns surrounding the real estate industry remain. Complaints are mostly made against the agents’ unethical behaviour that arise from unsavoury advertising, marketing and sales tactics. This is especially problematic given that real estate agents have an information advantage over buyers and sellers. Without a strong ethical compass, the desire for personal gain and self-interest can often influence agents to act against their clients’ best interests. The question remains, will CEA policy action be enough to solve this dilemma?
This case study aims to give students the opportunity to explore a real-life example of a competitive industry where ethical concerns threaten to derail the real estate transaction processes. Students are expected to develop analytical and problem-solving skills through in-depth discussions of why such issues arise, and how these situations can be mitigated using an ethical perspective.
Students will have the opportunity to: evaluate why real estate businesses should be ethical; discuss why ethical problems occur in the real estate industry; identify managerial values and considerations in the influence of ethical decision making; design effective ethics policies, ethics training programmes, ethics reporting mechanisms and similar safeguards; and examine the tensions and interdependence between ethics and the law.
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