Wanganui real estate agent Bill Hume has managed to almost halve a fine of $3000 imposed upon him by the Real Estate Agents Authority's complaints committee after he was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct last year.
Hume, who now works for Ray White Real Estate, was found guilty of two counts of unsatisfactory conduct in July 2011 following a complaint from a client who listed a property with him.
He was fined $3000 in December 2011, but on appeal to the authority's disciplinary tribunal, the penalty was dropped to a fine of $1750.
The committee found Hume guilty of failing to provide a written appraisal of the complainant's property to her.
In their decision, they called Hume "indifferent" to or unaware of new client care rules which require an appraisal of land to be provided in writing to the client. Because of his dyslexia, Hume relied on colleagues to do paperwork for him.
While the delegation of the task was fine, the committee found that it was not enough for Hume to say he believed everything he needed to comply had been given to him by his colleagues.
Every agent was responsible for their own practice and he needed to be aware he had to provide a vendor with more information.
On the second count, he was found to have failed to explain to the complainant in writing, when inviting signature of an agency agreement, how commission is calculated, including an estimated cost of commission payable by the complainant based on the appraised price of the property.
The committee found while an estimated commission rate was contained on the agency agreement, neither the amount of commission nor the appraised price of the property were realistic, so the complainant did not receive the right information about the estimated cost of commission.
On appeal of the penalty, Hume's counsel, Stephanie Burlace, argued he had since made "significant changes" to his practice, and he had since moved to another agency where he had undertaken training in the new legislation and client care rules.
It was her submission that the finding of unsatisfactory conduct should be a sufficient penalty in itself.
The tribunal concluded Hume had been "lax" in his attention to paperwork and discussions with clients, but noted he had since moved to another company and had a better understanding of his obligations.
However, he could not "hide" behind his dyslexia, and it was his responsibility to ensure all necessary steps were taken to comply with the Real Estate Agents Act, which he did not do.
They considered the issue of commission was one that should be resolved in the civil court, and should not be subject of an order by the tribunal.
However, the tribunal still found it appropriate to impose a fine on Hume.
Hume has the right to appeal the decision to the High Court.