A real estate agent who was censured and fined for listing a $1 million Auckland house for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than the sale price, has had the decision quashed.
Mike Emery, from Harcourts Mt Eden and Epsom, challenged the Real Estate Agents Authority's (REAA) earlier decision, which found the company had listed the Sandringham property within the wrong price bracket on its website, without the client's knowledge.
He was fined $1000 and ordered to refund $1000 of marketing costs to the complainant, Abigail Cook.
However, an appeal decision overturned the orders, saying Mr Emery had listed the property "in good faith" in a bid to secure a wider market for Ms Cook.
The property was uploaded onto the website to feature in all price searches between $750,000 and $950,000, the decision found, contrary to Ms Cook's assertion that it had been listed with a value of between $700,000 and $800,000.
"What this meant is that any price search between $750,00 and $950,000 would show Miss Cook's property. Therefore, a search for $700,00 to $800,000 properties would show Miss Cook's property," Mr Emery submitted to the REAA.
"This by no means indicates that the property is for sale within that bracket and rather purely serves to create interest from prospective buyers who would then contact the listing agency."
It had come as a shock to him, he said, when Ms Cook had "ambushed" him two weeks after an auction which failed to sell the property, with a screen shot of the house listed in the lower price bracket.
Ms Cook, in her evidence to the authority, said she felt the marketing had "deprived her of achieving a proper sales price", and there was now a "stigma" attached to the house because she was forced to withdraw it from market and change real estate agents.
However, the REAA said it did not feel the agent had breached his duties or obligations "in any way".
"He used a method of internet advertising in what has become a standard manner and, in good faith, to achieve a wide market coverage for his then client," it said.
The system itself was at fault, the REAA said, describing it as "somewhat unsophisticated and in need of refinement".
"It seems to us that the licensee and/or agency needs to be very thoughtful about formulating the appropriate price range for online advertising of a property, lest their efforts be misleading.
"Maybe, best practice for a licensee is to have the vendor approve the price band to be used for online advertising and that added into the listing agreement."
It quashed the earlier decision, and said no further action was required.