FOREIGN workers are being paid up to RM1,000 to queue up for housebuyers to book hot properties in land-starved Penang island.
These professional queuers — mostly Bangladeshis and Indonesians — even bring along their wives and children to camp outside the developer’s office up to one week ahead of a project launch.
They are paid between RM200 and RM250 per day to stay in queue for numbers which are then passed on to buyers to enter the sales office to book their units.
Architect Jessica Tan said she forked out RM150 to a “local agent” of the foreigners for a Bangladeshi to stay in the queue from 8pm the night before the launch until 7.30am the next day.
The 30-year-old, who did not want to spend the night for safety reasons, said the foreigners brought along their children and wives to camp outside the developer’s office.
“My friend from Kuala Lumpur paid RM1,000 for a Bangladeshi to stand in line for five days,” she said, adding that some locals even offered such a service for a hot property in town recently.
Engineer Edward Wong claimed that foreigners camping overnight on behalf of buyers was a common sight since late last year but lining up as early as a week before the property launch was a new trend.
“Usually, there will be two of them who take turns queuing in front of the developer’s office,” said the potential buyer in queue.
Wong, however, said the professional queuers had irked genuine buyers who find themselves far behind the line despite turning up early to book their units.
“An elderly man was here at 5.30am on the launch day itself but only managed to get in at 4pm because the foreigners had started queuing days before.
“With foreigners lining up for property investors, common folk like us won’t get a chance to purchase the affordable units,” said Wong.
Sophie Low, 34, said Penang was a “developer’s market”.
The property investor said she was not surprised at people hiring foreigners to queue for them as new projects in Penang island were in such high demand.
“It’s a free market — if you have the money to pay someone to stand in line for you, that’s fine,” she said.
Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda, Penang) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said there was “absolutely nothing wrong” with genuine buyers paying foreigners to stand in line for them.
“Those who are working cannot be expected to stand in line overnight, so engaging a property agent or even their maids to do it is fine.
“However, it’s unethical (though not illegal) for scalpers to line up and then sell their spots in the queue because it could deny genuine buyers the opportunity to purchase a unit of their choice.
“One way to eliminate scalpers is to require those lining up to come with a bank draft as evidence of their intent to purchase,” he said.
Source: The Star