Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

'Naive' real estate agent found guilty of misconduct

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

An inexperienced and "naive" real estate agent who pressured a couple into making an unconditional offer by telling them another one would be accepted by the day's end has been found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct by the industry watchdog.

The couple, whose have not been named, complained to the Real Estate Agents Authority about Auckland agent Hayden Zhou in relation to the property's sale.

Mr Zhou, who was working for Harcourts Takapuna and Harcourts Browns Bay at the time, showed them the home in March 2012.

A decision from the authority's complaints assessment committee, released today, described how Mr Zhou, the couple, their solicitor, another real estate agent and the home's owners were all working to a different unconditional date due to poor communication.

Mr Zhou told the couple that the owners would accept other offers if the contract was not declared unconditional by the end of business that day, the decision stated.

While Mr Zhou did put unfair pressure on the couple, he "made the error in good faith" and that his "lack of experience" was largely to blame, the decision stated.

The couple had also complained to the committee, which was being chaired by Marina Neylon, that Mr Zhou and another real estate agent involved with the property had breached their privacy by telling the owners they were having a baby.

The problem arose because Mr Zhou was given the impression by the couple "it was the pregnancy that made the purchase of the property no longer desirable," Ms Neylon said in her decision.

While the couple have a right to privacy when it comes to personal matters, agents are obliged to inform their clients - the property owner - of anything which makes buying the house no longer desirable.

"The committee believes that licensee one [Mr Zhou] was naive in some respects but not dishonest." The second real estate agent was obliged to tell his clients, Ms Neylon said.

Mr Zhou's boss and branch manager, Kerry Greenhalgh, and company licensee Cooper and Co Ltd - which is trading as Harcourts Takapuna and Harcourts Browns Bay - were also found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct in the decision because Mr Zhou had been allowed to undertake conveyancing work illegally.

Only real estate agents with more than six months experience are legally allowed to draw up legal documents, Ms Neylon noted.

In addition to this, she said the response from Cooper and Co Ltd in regards to Mr Zhou performing conveyancing work was "irresponsible and out of touch with modern day practice."

The company told the committee the rule was "quite simply irresponsible. To put this in perspective I could say to a new salesperson: 'congratulations you have received your license, now go away and I will see you in six months when you are allowed to write up a sale and purchase agreement," Cooper and Co Ltd told the committee.

Another hearing will be held to determine whether any orders need to be made on today's decision.

- APNZ

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