Lifting the standards of Real Estate Agents

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN

Educating property purchasers, as well as their agents, is an important role of the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) says its CEO Kevin Lampen-Smith.

"We try and get them to understand what they are taking part in," he said.

"This is a transaction that is pretty big and can be emotional - you are at risk if you are not getting good advice.

"A key thing is in the New Zealand market the agent works on behalf of the seller. The trap for the purchaser is to think the agent is working for them. They mustn't mislead, they mustn't misrepresent."

Mr Lampen-Smith was in Hawke's Bay on Thursday, speaking to the majority of Hawke's Bay agents at a REINZ conference at The Mission Estate Winery in Taradale.

The REAA is the Government's regulatory body for the real estate industry. It was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 to lift standards of service and professionalism and increase protection for buyers and sellers of real estate.

Previously the industry had been self-regulated through REINZ.

"We take opportunities to speak with the industry because we are a little bit concerned they don't understand our role - it is important to let them know what our approach is."

He said most agents would never have any contact with the REAA. "Some think there are a lot of bad real estate agents out there, but last year there were 350 disciplinary decisions, with 40 per cent requiring no action, across 12,000 licensees. Everyone says to us they are lifting their standards - they are pretty clear the game has changed."

REAA has a staff of 35, including three lawyers, and is self-funded through real estate licence fees - an agent's individual licence fee is about $700 per year.

He said cases, such as the recent scandal involving a local agent, "don't come along very often".

He said most cases were over technicalities, but some involved fraud and deception. "Most of our energy is to chase those kind of people, but the other part of our philosophy is to give advice and guidance to the industry, that's why we are getting around. It's not just about disciplinary issues, the act charges us with improving confidence in the real estate industry. A lot of that is by helping agents do their job better."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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