The Membership Market

The club membership market in Singapore works in a similar way to other markets such as a stock exchange, or the property and commodities markets. The main difference is that the membership market has very high transaction costs.

Like the property market, there is no central body like the SGX which guarantees delivery and payment to the transacting parties. It is important therefore for each party to ensure their interest is protected during the transaction process. A good broker will structure the transaction to minimise risk for each party.

Also, in contrast to a stock exchange, there is no published comprehensive price information. Brokers generally have a fair knowledge of the market but should not be uncritically relied upon. To get a feel for the current accessible price, talk to a few brokers as a prospective buyer; ask also about prices for comparable clubs. This will help you gauge the appropriate price for the club you are interested in. Transaction volumes are of course tiny compared with a stock exchange. However regular market participants have a good feel for realistic prices.

Don’t expect to buy or sell way off the market price. The other person is also doing their research before committing to a deal!

Sellers should appoint just one agent to find a buyer. If you give the deal to several agents, prospective buyers may perceive that there are several memberships of that club for sale, thus weakening the market against you. Your sales agent will co-broke with other agents to find a buyer. To monitor the market price, scan the newspaper ads and call around as a buyer to enquire.

Also, don’t bargain for a very low sales commission. You want to be the seller who gets the broker’s first attention for the best deal.

Buyers beware! Brokers sometimes quote unrealistic prices to get a prospective buyer on the hook. If you are quoted a low price, ask if there is an actual seller, then insist on completing the deal immediately.

DON’T sign any contract of exclusivity to buy with a broker. Such a contract is not to your advantage; if the broker has a seller, they don’t need exclusivity. If they haven’t, you don’t want to be kept out of the market whilst the broker finds one!

As to timing, the membership market works like all other markets. When prices are down, volumes decline as buyers hold back awaiting even lower prices, whilst owners hold back from selling. The result is that very few people buy their membership when prices are low. The largest volume of transactions is when prices are high.

The best time to buy is when the market is low and volumes are low. Your broker can tell you when transaction volumes are low; the membership department staff of the clubs may also be able to help here. The market may go lower, but once sentiment begins to turn and buyers realise that prices are rising, they can go up very sharply.

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