Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Real estate agents in fist fight

Fiona Lee and Wendy Feng. Photos / Supplied
Fiona Lee and Wendy Feng. Photos / Supplied

Two female real estate agents came to blows over the sale of an apartment in a fight that left both with minor injuries - and a fine.

The catfight erupted in front of onlookers at an inner-Auckland apartment that both agents - Hulan (Wendy) Feng of City Sales and Soon (Fiona) Lee of LJ Hooker Ponsonby - had been trying to sell.

One industry insider said he wasn't surprised two female agents were involved but another said the behaviour was ridiculous.

A Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal found both agents guilty of disgraceful conduct and fined them $600 each.

It described what unfolded: "Ms Lee was at 76 Albert St showing a potential buyer around apartment 20F. Ms Feng arrived at the property and words were exchanged to the effect that Ms Feng considered the apartment to have been sold and that Ms Lee should therefore not be showing it.

"A physical confrontation between the defendants ensued. Each of the defendants alleged she was assaulted by the other but it is not necessary for the tribunal to make any findings about that because both defendants through counsel admitted they were engaged as alleged in a physical fight."

The tribunal said the fight was witnessed by the apartment tenant and Ms Lee's client.

Ms Feng took a grievance to the Real Estate Agents Authority. A complaints assessment committee investigated, before the case went to the more powerful tribunal.

It discounted a potential $1000 fine to $600, saying the women were not guilty of fraud or dishonesty.

"We accept it was a short-lived loss of control which became more serious as it was in the presence of others," the tribunal said.

Yesterday, Ms Feng said she had been physically hurt, claiming her rival had attacked her face.

"The thing is, I don't want to go over it again because there's not much point for her and me and I've forgiven her.

"She's a single mother ... and I didn't understand that before. This is last year's thing. I want it over," Ms Feng said.

Ms Lee said the other agent should not have entered the apartment knowing she was there. She said the fight was ugly.

"She was jumping up and down. She swore at me, the F word, she punched me on the chest and on the right side," Ms Lee said.

She also claimed Ms Feng asked a large male colleague to hold her arms so she could continue the assault.

"I could not protect myself. She kept fighting on me. It was really unfair," Ms Lee said, adding she was left with bruising and scratches.

A spokesman for the Real Estate Agents Authority said he was not particularly surprised to hear of the agents' fight last year.

"I think it tends to be the females more than the males going for each other," he said, adding he had seen a number of complaints involving physical assaults.

Keith Manch, the authority's CEO, described the Lee-Feng case as remarkable.

"This is clearly not acceptable in a service profession. It is OK if you are a boxer. This is the first I've seen of it and it seems rather extraordinary. Real estate transactions are emotional for buyers, sellers and agents but they need to hold themselves together and there are avenues for dealing with disputes."

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan was surprised to hear of the fight.

"It's just ridiculous behaviour," she said, advising agents against resorting to violence.

"Just don't. Count to 10, take a deep breath. It is a tough market and one of the things about real estate is that it's competitive, but there's competitive and ridiculous."

- NZ Herald

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