Focus July 2013

Published 2014-04-17

Hi again, and welcome to my real estate column, today I want to talk about the profession of real estate agents, and also touch on the relationship between agents and their clients.

Let’s be totally honest, agents have for many years, had an unenviable reputation, and to be totally honest in some cases well deserved.  One can think back to the old Fast Forward Comedy show on television, with the ‘Liare and Deshonko’ Real Estate Agency parody to get an idea of what the stereotypical real estate agent was.

The fact of the matter is however, that the industry, in the main has changed.  Changes to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act in NSW and policing by the Department of Fair Trading in NSW have also done a great deal to lift the professionalism in the industry.  Changes such as yearly compulsory professional development have been brought about to ensure that agents are up to date with legislation and best practice.  Professional bodies such as the Real Estate Institutes in each State, are also there to provide guidance to members.

One of the advantages of dealing with member agencies is their adherence to the REI codes of conduct and regulations governing membership.  For instance, the REINSW introduced compulsory Professional Indemnity Insurance, even though the industry itself did not demand it.

I firmly believe that honesty is absolutely the best policy, and should be the only policy for professional real estate agents. Unfortunately however, many buyers and sellers believe they shouldn’t be honest with agents.  Maybe it’s because of the stereotypical public perception of ‘agents’ or maybe it’s just human nature.

Real Estate Agents, in the vast majority, are trained professionals who try and do the best by their clients, acting in an ethical and responsible manner. There will always be some people in any profession who bend and break the rules, however in all industries it is in the minority.

You wouldn’t go to a health professional and give them an incorrect list of symptoms, your accountant and tell them incorrect details for your tax returns, but when dealing with real estate agents, some people feel they should avoid advising the agent of their true circumstances when they are possibly making the largest purchase they will ever make, or selling their biggest asset. In simple turns lets all be honest with each other-it’s easier to help if you know all the facts.

Now my gripe, and it is unfortunately with some agents.  In order to act lawfully in the sale of your home, agents must have two things. Firstly, a listing agreement between you and the agent, and secondly, a valid ‘contract of sale’.  Sadly, I have been told recently that some agents, when asked to attend homes to provide a market appraisal, are attempting to circumvent the process by bringing buyers straight around and negotiating a deal. The quick sale may sound alluring, however not only is it illegal, but it may not be getting you the best price for your home. The market sets the price and competition lifts the price, my concern would always be why is the agent ‘not’ putting the home to the market and what is their relationship with the buyer?

Quick tip, if an agent has done this to you, you are NOT obliged to pay them commission and should report  them to the Department of Fair Trading.

Have a great month.