Estate Agents Who Play "Lawyer"

Posted on May 1, 2007 by | 0 Comments

Peter Mericka B.A., LL.Bby Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B Real Estate Lawyer and Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria Lawyers Real Estate

Estate agents often want to control the sale transaction, even to the point of telling the lawyer how to prepare sale documents. But what happens if the estate agent is asked to take responsibility?

For the past 4 years, as far as Ryan of Hocking Stuart Real Estate is aware, Hocking Stuart have been telling vendors’ lawyers how to prepare sale documents, by way of a two page letter of instructions and requirements.

See a full copy of Hocking Stuart's standard letter of instructions to lawyers on the preparation of sale documents.We were concerned that an estate agent with no legal qualifications would want to advise a vendor’s lawyers on the preparation of legal documents, and so we put Hocking Stuart Real Estate to the test.

We asked:

  • Did Hocking Stuart understand their own letter;

  • Did Hocking Stuart believe they were competent to advise on legal matters; and

  • Did Hocking Stuart accept responsibility for their advice?
It would appear that Hocking Stuart Real Estate has never been asked such questions before. First, they said “Yes” in answer to all 3 questions. But then they changed their minds, saying:

“…we do not accept any responsibility for any legal advice given to our vendors…” adding that “…the person who signed the letter is now in Germany.” (Perhaps we were to assume that a person who is in Germany can’t be held responsible for a letter written in Australia?)
Eventually, we received a letter from Hocking Stuart Real Estate stating,

“We request that all previous correspondence from our office be ignored.”
Why does an estate agent try to direct the vendor’s lawyer, but shy away from taking responsibility?

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