The middle persons, between us and acquiring property, are the agents. There are close to 14,000 of them in New Zealand all extremely interested in helping us let go of, or get a new home. They have to be, our property trading provides their income.
Cowboys, Wide-boys and Fly-by-nighters
Unfortunately the stereotypical perception of Mr or Mrs Real Estate is someone of flexible moral character, coupled with teflon-coated verbal skills. They are ‘flash’; only in it for the cash.
Martin Sawyers, Legal Counsel for the REAA says this, largely incorrect, perception is something the Authority is working hard to shift.
The REAA, he says, was in part set up because of the need to regulate the industry, to protect consumers and agents alike from the after-effects of actions by an unscrupulous few.
Changes: Yes, you ARE responsible
Once the Real Estate Agents Act became law in 2008, anybody involved in a property transaction, from salesperson to branch manager and above, is held equally responsible for their actions. These are big changes.
For instance: a salesperson is no longer covered through belonging to an agency. They are held responsible in their own right. An agent in a supervisory capacity may be similarly culpable. Position held is neither a defence nor a shield. Martin says, that those working in the industry now more than ever need to know the law, how it applies to their everyday interactions with colleagues and consumers as well as the consequences of being found on the wrong side of it.
New Independent Complaint Procedure
The complaints procedure that was previously undertaken by the member organisation, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), is now part of the REAA function, reassuring the public that it is absolutely independent and beyond influence. Martin says they are notified of approximately 800 concerns on average per year ranging from minor infringements to cases of gross misconduct. The majority he says are dealt with through giving compliance advice. However if a case is serious the result could range from fines of varying sizes through to suspension or loss of license and involvement with the police, Serious Fraud Office, Commerce Commission, or the Financial Markets Authority. For instance, so far this year two licensees have had their licence cancelled. It is the REAA’s mandate that these enforcement measures, coupled with other regulatory tools such as the introduction of a compulsory continuing education programme, will have the cumulative effect of reassuring the house selling and buying public that property is truly as ‘safe as houses’.
*What is the REAA?
The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent, government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand. REAA provides independent oversight of the real estate industry, ensures a high standard of service and professionalism within the industry, and provides increased protection for buyers and sellers of real estate. The REAA is a Crown entity, established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.