by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B Real Estate Lawyer and Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria Lawyers Real Estate
We start the New Year with a big question, raised by the use of the logo of the Law Institute of Victoria on documents designed for use by estate agents. Our question is,
Is the relationship between the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) and the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) one of co-operation for the benefit of consumers, or is it a conspiracy against the consumer?The following image is a reproduction of the standard Contract Note, used when the estate agent acts on behalf of the purchaser at the offer stage of a sale, and again when the same estate agent acts on behalf of vendor at the acceptance stage.
The presence of the logo of the LIV on this document, and the words “approved by the Victorian Lawyers RPA” (a name formerly used by the Law Institute of Victoria), confirms to the average consumer that the Law Institute condones and encourages the role of the estate agent in acting for both purchaser and vendor, and undermines the relationship between the lawyer and his or her client.
In coming posts we will examine the relationship between the REIV and LIV in some detail, and invite comments from representatives of each.
We’ll begin the discussion with a few observations:
- The estate agent used to have an important role in bringing vendors and purchasers together, but advances in information technology are making this service increasingly irrelevant.
- In order to remain relevant, estate agents are moving into areas traditionally serviced by the legal profession.
- The Law Institute of Victoria has facilitated the delivery of legal services by estate agents by developing documents for use specifically by estate agents, by condoning contract negotiation by estate agents, and even by advising its members to take measures that effectively protected estate agents from legal action by consumers.
- The Law Institute of Victoria appears to have ignored the economic and market changes that have placed lawyers in a position to compete with, and even displace, estate agents.
- A “black market” has developed in the delivery of real estate related legal services, with estate agents and unlicensed conveyancers freely providing pre-contract legal services to unsuspecting consumers.
- The Law Institute of Victoria has not undertaken any effective marketing or promotion of its members’ services as a better option for consumers.