An Otaki real estate agent has been ordered to pay $1500 and undergo ethics training after replacing a private "for sale" sign on a house with one of his own.

Brendon Heenan, of First National Otaki, placed his own sign on top of the owners' sign in October last year without an agency agreement, the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) said today.

The home owners, who lived in Napier, realised they were no longer receiving inquiries about the property in late December, but did not see the sign until a visit to Otaki in mid-January.

The owners said they were "disgusted, frustrated and furious" to see that Heenan had erected for sale sign over the top of their own private sale sign.

Their phone started ringing almost immediately after they removed Heenan's sign.

They laid a complaint with REAA, saying Heenan's sign had cost them money and a potential sale and estimated the loss of chance of a previous sale to be three months.

Heenan told the authority he called the owners to discuss listing the property, but no official agreement had been reached.

"I did put up the sign in my eagerness...but I do not feel that they have been disadvantaged in any way by having the First National sign on their property over this period," he said.

REAA found Heenan's conduct was unsatisfactory and ordered him to pay $1500 to the owners and attend a real estate ethics course via the Open Polytechnic.

- NZPA / NZ Herald Online