Real estate agent fined for pushing sale to workmate

By Patrice Dougan

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A real estate agent has been fined for pushing her clients to sell their house to a fellow employee instead of going to auction.

Barfoot and Thompson real estate agent, Jiehui Lu, also known as Jessie, was found to have breached the rules in dealing with her client, including failing to provide a market appraisal prior to listing the property and showing people around the house without having an agency agreement in place.

She also back-dated a form, acknowledging to the clients that their purchaser was an employee of the firm.

The Auckland investment property was listed with Barfoot and Thompson in April 2012.

Two people were shown around the property, with one - Mrs F, who was an admin worker at the real estate agency - making an offer.

A price of $645,000 was eventually settled on.

"It appears on the evidence before us the property was sold to Ms F without being exposed to the open market. Only two buyers that were known to the licensee had the opportunity to look at the property,'' the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) decision states.

The authority also found Ms Lu had persuaded her clients not to continue with the auction.

"The complainant alleges the licensee said auctions were not working in this area and the complainant should therefore accept the offer from Mrs F. The committee finds this advice was inconsistent with the available market facts,'' it said, adding that Ms Lu had "put the interests of her colleague ahead of the interests of the client''.

A transparency form was also signed by Mrs F, with Ms Lu saying Barfoot and Thompson management told her to back-date the form to match the sale and purchase agreement.

The REAA said while it seemed she was ``attempting to do the right thing, it was not acceptable to incorrectly date'' the document.

The complaints committee concluded that both Ms Lu and Barfoot and Thompson had "engaged in conduct that is unsatisfactory''.

It ordered Ms Lu to pay a fine of $500 to the REAA, and the company to refund $1000 of the fees charged to the complainant.

Meanwhile, Monarch Real Estate Ltd agent Edward Franklin was found to have misled a couple who submitted a pre-auction bid on a house before withdrawing their offer.

Mr Franklin argued with the couple that they could not withdraw their bid and that it would stand at auction. The auction was then cancelled because of the disagreement.

The REAA found the complainants' understanding that they were permitted to withdraw their bid was "reasonable and justified'', and was a "direct outcome of the licensee's handling of this transaction''.

Mr Franklin was censured and reprimanded by the authority, and ordered to pay $2000 towards costs.

- APNZ

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