Property editor of the NZ Herald

Hearings reveal bitter real estate scraps

Agents' appeal dominate tribunal's workload... and they usually lose

Tribunal rulings show some real estate agents are letting their clients down. Photo / Thinkstock
Tribunal rulings show some real estate agents are letting their clients down. Photo / Thinkstock

Boundary disputes, fights over commissions for property sales and an agent who invaded a private deal without declaring her job are some of the latest cases to go before a state authority.

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal's decisions reveal bitter scraps between agents, vendors and buyers.

Samuel Rogers of Ray White Northwood in Christchurch lost his unsatisfactory conduct appeal over how he dealt with a property.

He failed to disclose a high-density development directly opposite, claimed there were multiple offers on the property to get a higher price, presented the property unprofessionally, appeared as if he had no specific knowledge about it and made no effort to show it off.

The tribunal said his evidence added little or nothing of relevance to the material presented.

"We are left with the clear impression that the appellant's attitude towards his obligations as an agent were cavalier and fell far short of the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent licensee," it ruled.

Linda Galbraith of Kellands Realty in Auckland lost her appeal to the tribunal which confirmed a $3500 fine and publication of her name and details after it heard the case involving Gary and Anna McNabb, vendors of a large Remuera house in Shore Rd who were also selling a Lucerne Rd property on a sole agency with Bayleys.

A dispute arose over whether commissions were payable to Kellands on the Lucerne Rd sale.

The tribunal decided that based on her emails in which she was disparaging of the McNabbs, Galbraith had lost sight of the fact she was there to act as their agent and her obligation to them was paramount. She had complained about not being paid, but got a commission of $23,886.56 on the Shore Rd sale.

"The emails were completely inappropriate for Mrs Galbraith to send. They gave incorrect information and suggested that her clients were hiding something and were trying (again) to avoid paying a justly earned commission. They painted a very negative picture of the vendors," the tribunal decided.

Rita Maria Charles, formerly of Nationwide Real Estate Haron & Company, Papatoetoe was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of a Manukau property for $295,000.

After an agreement was signed for the property to be sold, details were inserted without the knowledge of the complainant and vendor, Ronika Chand, about the commission charged.

In the Manukau District Court, Judge Peter Spiller, dismissed proceedings to recover the commission.

Chand had advertised the house on Trade Me and wanted to sell it privately.

But Charles visited the property with another couple, a deal was negotiated and Charles later presented a blank sale and purchase agreement without a sticker naming her real estate agency.

Charles told the tribunal she was now working in insurance and her licence had expired. The tribunal said the offence was pre-2008, before the new law came in, so it could only fine her the maximum $750.

Many agents who go to the tribunal lose their cases because they are challenging Real Estate Agency Authority decisions which the tribunal upholds on points of law.

But in one case, an agent won her appeal and the authority's decision was reversed.

Diane Wright complained about a ruling which went against her over the sale of a property in Wood Bay Rd, Titirangi.

The tribunal found the agent not guilty of professional misconduct because she did not mislead the buyers and had discharged her obligations as an agent.


Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal:

* Released 29 decisions since inception

* Appeals by agents dominate

* Tribunal rejects most cases

* Scraps over money prevalent

* Bitter fights over sales

- NZ Herald

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