A Tauranga real estate agent who sold a house without revealing a stunning sea view would be partially blocked has been fined $8000.
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal imposed that penalty on Tanya Dunham of LJ Hooker Tauranga after she was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct when it emerged she knew about building plans before she sold her parents' home in Forrester Dr.
The owner of a property across the road had already advised her that he planned a new double garage with a second storey above, the tribunal said.
"He asked Ms Dunham to advise any potential purchasers of his plans as the construction would affect the property's water views. He also offered to provide Ms Dunham with a copy of the plans," the tribunal said.
"Ms Dunham acknowledged receipt of the email but did not obtain the plans. However she altered the marketing material for the property so as not to include a picture of the view that would be affected," it said.
Jared and Rosalie Ogilvy were attracted to the property by its view, and made it clear to the agent that these "were stunning and important to them" and subsequently bought it, only to find out about the development, the tribunal said.
The purchase settled on September 2, 2013 but by December 18, 2013 they noticed construction of the second storey had started across the road. That was the first time they knew of the development and views from their property have been significantly impacted, the tribunal noted.
So they laid a complaint.
After hearing of the $8000 fine, Jared Ogilvy expressed anger and disbelief.
"It's a ridiculous amount of equity we've lost - at least $60,000 or something like that.
"We purchased the house in good faith, ticking all the boxes and she knew full well and she knew the importance of buying that property for the view," Ogilvy said.
"We could have purchased lots of other properties without that view which were considerably cheaper."
Submissions for Dunham at the penalty hearing in Auckland on July 4 argued that her omission to advise the Ogilvys of the extent of the building plans was at the lowest end of the range of disgraceful conduct. But she did acknowledge from the outset that she had failed to make written disclosure of her relationship to the vendors - her parents.
"She had taken steps to improve her practices, she felt remorseful, she has had 23 years' experience in the industry without any previous disciplinary action against her, she was the sole breadwinner for her family and she had been vilified by recent publicity of this case, which had included threats and hate messages," the tribunal said.
Character references were also submitted from professional associates. Public interest did not require her omission to be met with suspension from working as a real estate agent, her lawyer submitted.
The tribunal agreed.
"However we regard Ms Dunham's conduct as being serious and it requires censure and a fine," the tribunal said.
She was fined $6000 on one charge and a further $2000 on a second and the tribunal said it noted the complainants did not seek compensation.
Rosalie Ogilvy said she she had taken legal advice and would not want to comment on the decision until she had read it.
Dunham's work phone says she is "away on holiday."