New Zealand’s real estate industry watchdog says the recent penalties handed down as a result of price-fixing investigations should remind agents to act with integrity.
In December 2015, the Commerce Commission filed court proceedings against 13 real estate agencies, a company owned by a number of national real estate agencies, and three individuals, for their responses to Trade Me changing its fees for listing properties for sale. A further eight agencies received warnings from the Commission. The court has since imposed $16.425 million in penalties, with some proceedings still outstanding.
Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith says the heavy penalties show the seriousness of the offending.
“We are wholly supportive of the industry being held to account for its actions,” he says.
Lampen-Smith says real estate agents need to be fully informed about the legislation that is designed to guide their behaviour and protect property buyers and sellers.
“Most agents are out there doing their best for buyers and sellers, and the industry has come a long way in the last seven years in terms of raised standards, increased professionalism and accountability.
“However, these cases show there is still room for improvement as the industry continues to increase its understanding of and compliance with the full suite of consumer protection legislation; including for example the Commerce Act under which these charges have been bought, the Fair Trading Act and the Real Estate Agents Act.
“Successful real estate transactions are all about trust. Our advice to the industry is simple: understand and play by the rules. If you don’t, you will be held to account.”
For more information, or to speak to Kevin Lampen-Smith, contact REAA media communications manager Lucy Corry (ph 0278 376 026 or firstname.lastname@example.org).