Honey turns sour over complaint from his old firm

By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss

Martin Honey in a still from a video posted on his website.
Martin Honey in a still from a video posted on his website.

One of the country's top real estate agents is under investigation by the Real Estate Agents Authority - and has retaliated by laying a complaint of harassment.

The authority is investigating a claim that Martin Honey continued to run a Remax website after he moved to a competing company. Browsers who clicked on listings on Honey's Remax page were allegedly diverted to Honey's new Ray White site, effectively siphoning business away from the new Remax franchisees in the area.

Honey has a long list of accolades from his 20-year career. One year he was Remax's No 1 salesperson. Last year he sold $21 million worth of property, also winning the Ray White "premium" award.

The Herald on Sunday has been given a video recording showing computer users calling up a Honey-fronted, Remax-branded website marketing his new listings - but linking viewers to his Ray White website when they click on the listings.

Honey says any linking was inadvertent. In a statement given to the authority as evidence, his website designer Hemi Taka says the website issue was caused by the way search engine Google "cached" or retained website information even after it had been removed.

But a digital investigation report, commissioned by the authority and obtained by the Herald on Sunday, says the references to "Google and caching are confused". Digital forensics consultant Mike Spence says: "The Remax pages have been left active within the website." He concludes that a person who typed "Remax Onehunga" into a search engine would have been presented with Honey's website, even though he was working for a competitor.

The new Remax franchisees, Dermot Nottingham and Earle McKinney, claim the business lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions during the 14 months the website was online.

Nottingham says its listing rate increased dramatically after Honey's Remax website was taken down in April 2010.

Honey laid a counter-complaint against Nottingham with the REAA, alleging harassment.

The authority's Complaints Assessment Committee met on Thursday to discuss the case but could take two to three weeks to rule. Honey did not want to comment.

- Herald on Sunday

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