Protection for home buyers

By Abby Gillies

Strengthened code of conduct will help cut complaints about real estate agent behaviour.

Complaints about agent behaviour have dropped slightly in the three years since the legislation was first introduced, with a revised, stricter version due to start from today. Photo / Chris Gorman
Complaints about agent behaviour have dropped slightly in the three years since the legislation was first introduced, with a revised, stricter version due to start from today. Photo / Chris Gorman

House buyers and sellers are more protected from dodgy agent dealings than before, and the reviewed code of conduct about to take effect will further protect their interests, experts say.

Complaints about agent behaviour have dropped slightly in the three years since the legislation was first introduced, with a revised, stricter version due to start from today.

It's good news for buyers, with the changes offering better protection of their interests and demanding more accountability from agents, say industry representatives.

On average, 12 complaints are received each week by The Real Estate Agents Authority, mostly about marketing, incompetence, negligence, non-disclosure and undue pressure issues.

Less than half of these are progressed to the Complaints Assessment Committee, with the rest resolved through consumer information, compliance advice or mediation, said the REAA.

Of the complaints received, 29 per cent were made by the seller, 17 by the buyer, 17 per cent by an agent, 2 per cent by a solicitor and 35 per cent by people who dealt with the agent as a prospective buyer or seller.

Chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith said the reviewed code was about increasing consumer protection and increasing professional standards, revised in part based on decisions and industry feedback.

Under the revised code agents must recommend to all parties that they seek legal advice before signing agency agreements or sale and purchase agreements.

Other new rules include explaining to a client when an agency agreement will end and an obligation to warn a prospective buyer about any known defects - even if the owner does not tell them.

"You can't just hide behind vendor lack of information," Mr Lampen-Smith said.

The new system was having a positive impact with more agents having their licence suspended and being fined for unprofessional conduct, he said.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'Sullivan agreed the evolving code was having a positive effect, particularly by making sure buyers are informed about risks.

"I do think the legislation provides a really good level of protection," she said. "Ultimately this is about disclosure and transparency."

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 15 Sep 2014 22:19:47 Processing Time: 593ms