A top Auckland real estate boss with the country's largest agency network has been found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct and his business has been ordered to pay an $8000 fine over supervision issues.
Martin Cooper of prominent North Shore business Harcourts Cooper & Co was found not to have supervised those working in his businesses, although he said he had implemented significant changes to ensure compliance with the law.
In an unusual step, a Complaints Assessment Committee formed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 took it upon itself to examine the Milford-based man's actions following three separate complaints last year.
The agency has been censured and the fine imposed although Cooper said he reserved the right to appeal those findings and told investigators that he took his supervision obligations seriously.
Three separate complaints against his businesses last year sparked the wider probe.
"The agency and licensee Cooper failed to properly supervise and manage salespersons licensees in the two branch offices from which three cases arose," the committee said in its decision.
"The branch offices had salesperson licensees performing the role of supervisors in those offices and what oversight there was from offsite qualified supervisors (agent or branch manager licensees) was largely passive supervision and completely inadequate to meet the obligation to properly manage and supervise salesperson licenses in the branch offices," the decision said.
Cooper, who began selling real estate in 1983 and has personally sold and negotiated in excess of 400 properties, told the Herald today:
"We had three complaints to the CAC over 18 months that triggered this investigation and during that time Cooper and Co did over 3000 transitions. So I felt hard done by with the finding but we have made changes as recommended by the committee to satisfy their conduct requirements. I will not be appealing from Cooper and Co".
The committee said Cooper told it he took his obligations seriously.
"There was confusion and misinformation within the industry about supervision and there has been a period of transition," the committee reported him saying.
"The agency has taken remedial steps to ensure all managers are in the process of obtaining branch manager qualifications and the agency has reinforced the need for one-on-one meetings between supervisors and salespersons on a regular basis," the committee said of Cooper and Co.
Cooper had circulated an internal memorandum to inform his team about the committee's decision and its implications, it noted. He had also implemented "significant changes" in the agency practices to ensure compliance with the supervision requirements of the act.