Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Real estate agent who misled sister stripped of licence

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A real estate agent who misled her sister about an offer to buy her house has been stripped of her licence and fined $5000.

Century 21 agent Lesley de Ruyter was charged with misconduct after telling Marilyn Hoogenraad and her partner Jason Coleman that a couple intending to buy their 8.3ha farm at Herbert, near Oamaru, had sold their own home.

She also told them the buyers, Stephen and Lavinia Stringer, would pay a deposit once they had received a deposit from the sale of their own home in Lark St, Oamaru.

However, the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal heard the Stringers had not sold their home, and had put in an offer only after Ms de Ruyter assured them they could rent out the Lark St property to finance the farm.

The Stringers later backed out of the deal upon learning they could not borrow enough money to buy the farm unless their Lark St home sold for close to its valuation.

Century 21 offered to buy the home for $225,000, but that was short of its $270,000 valuation.

Ms Hoogenraad and her partner laid a complaint with the Real Estate Agents Authority after the February 2010 deal fell through.

She told the tribunal she was "overjoyed" when her sister told her there was an unconditional offer to buy her property, which had been on the market for more than six months, for $365,000.

She said her sister told her the $35,000 deposit would be paid once the Stringers had received their deposit, which had been delayed, and the Stringers would like to rent the farm until settlement.

Ms Hoogenraad and her partner moved off the farm in preparation for the Stringers moving in, and into a new house they had bought.

When the deal fell through, they were forced to sell their new property and move back to the farm, costing them about $50,000.

Ms de Ruyter denied she had told her sister the Stringers had sold their property, and said she had maintained the Stringers had an offer on their property but had turned it down.

She said the Stringers had told her finance was not an issue and they had good equity to borrow against. They were unconcerned about the possibility of owning two homes.

The tribunal found Ms de Ruyter had given the complainants false information.

"We consider from the evidence that we have heard that this was a wilful breach of the rules which put the purchasers and the complainants in a situation where heartache and cost would be experienced by all and this had proved to be the case."

It said Ms de Ruyter was no longer working as an agent. It cancelled her licence and fined her $5000.

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