An Auckland real estate agent at global business Colliers has been fined $1500 after being found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct for the way he dealt with a woman considering buying a central city superette.
The complainant, identified only as UM by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, sought for Ned Gow to be fined a maximum $10,000 claiming she had felt “trapped and cheated” over the deal.
But the authority looked at three other comparable decisions and instead decided last month to only fine him $1500.
The complainant was the highest bidder at the auction of a dairy/superette property in central Auckland but the sale and purchase agreement was ultimately cancelled and she didn’t go ahead and buy it.
Afterwards, she made a complaint to the Real Estate Authority against Gow and the auctioneer, alleging amongst other things that Gow misrepresented the annual rent.
However, a complaints assessment committee formed by the authority decided to take no further action on her complaint.
Unhappy with that result, she appealed to the tribunal which in July, partially upheld her complaint and found unsatisfactory conduct on the part of Gow because he overstated the actual rent paid on the property.
The complainant said she suffered severe consequences from Gow’s unsatisfactory conduct.
She said she was significantly influenced by the representations about net rent being $49,062. She was targeting a yield of 5.2 per cent, so based on the rent, she agreed a price of $940,000 for the property.
The rent though was only $39,656.85, so using the same yield, the appropriate valuation was $759,855.
Hence, she would have overpaid $180,144.66.
“This direct financial loss was avoided by eventually cancelling the agreement. According to the appellant, she has been a dedicated university employee for more than 17 years enjoying stable emotional and physical health,” evidence presented said.
“Following the distressing encounter with Mr Gow, the emotional turmoil led to 15 counselling sessions. She believes that a sudden spike in her blood pressure was the result of stress from this case. It required medical treatment and sleeping aids.”
According to UM, had Gow been transparent about the actual rental income, she might have refrained from bidding, avoiding an over-commitment and the ensuing ordeal of three years.
The cancellation was directly precipitated by Gow’s misrepresentation, she submitted. The cancellation prevented a direct financial loss of $180,144.66, but it did not shield her from the other substantial losses.
Far from being an innocuous or technical oversight, Gow’s actions seemed deliberate, she argued. They misled an unsuspecting and inexperienced commercial property investor. The tangible losses incurred were $84,412.63, being:
- A forfeited deposit of $45,000.
- Accumulated legal and valuation expenses associated with the purchase and settlement, of $39,412.63.
But the tribunal was told in Gow’s defence that she had not proved the link between his conduct and the compensation sought.
And she had made repeated allegations of dishonesty against Gow, none of which were found to be true.
Some of her claims were more appropriately treated as claims for costs, it was submitted.
Nor has she acted in a manner that facilitated the resolution of the issues. Of the 11 different heads of complaint she brought against him, only one was upheld by the tribunal.
The tribunal upheld her challenge about Gow’s misleading statements on the rent.
Gow was represented by three lawyers while UM was self-represented.
A Colliers’ spokesman said the business didn’t want to comment on the case.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.