by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
“Real Estate Agents Preying On Battlers” is the title of an article appearing on the ABC news website. I invite visitors to read the item for themselves, but it is a comment to this item that I find particularly interesting.
Way down the list of 37 comments to the article is one by a contributor known as Rel. Here is what Rel had to say:
Quote: “Its president, Noel Dyett, says licensed agents are prevented by law and their own code of ethics from exploiting people”
Mr Noel Dyett has obviously never had an aging mother living in an old house in a ‘popular’ area (read: selling well and prices skyrocketing over the last year).
My mother endured harrassment from Real Estate Agents (most of the ‘big ones’ – all the names we know and see advertised – all these precious “Licenced Agents” Noel refers too) for two years, as they preyed on her – an old lady with a valuable house in a popular locationand in a competitive market.
This harassment included: Christmas cards, unsolicited, unannounced arrival at her front door at anytime of day accompanied with prspective buyers; repeated telephone calls with offers to ‘fix up the house for her’; a Real Estate Agents New Year calendar, featuring her house as the picture; and the worst, one guy telling her the entire block was being pulled down to build flats and hers would be the only house.
My mother was is an old lady, who at the time was beginning to show signs of Alzheimers Disease. There were times when she called up, terrified, scared and crying in response to this blatant predatory harrassment. I would have to make the 84 kilometre round trip to assure her that no, her children weren’t trying to sell her house from under her feet.
On calling some agents, they laughed at me.
On calling the Real Estate Institute, I was basically told that they can do anything they like to market their services and if my mother was being harrassed I should contact the police. Just not interested. Like all industry bodies, their tenet is to protect their industry.
The police politely told me to contact them if there had been a crime. This was on more than one occasion; with one police officer calling up the Real Estate agent on her mobile and asking for the manager by first name. The personal greeting and tone of her voice indicated a past relationship.
Face it, market going up the leeches get fed; market going down the leeches get fed.
I observed a strong relationship between Real Estate Agents, Shire Councils, and the Police. There goes any honesty one may have expected when trying to protect a victim of professional harassment…”
My own observations lead me to conclusion that many lawyers, conveyancers and even Consumer Affairs Victoria also enjoy the “strong relationship” Rel mentions.
If the authorities, industry regulators, consumer protection agencies, law societies, lawyers, conveyancers, and conveyancing associations are at all interested in stopping the rampant corruption in the real estate industry they need do no more than to address the vehicle by which corruption is effected – the estate agent’s contract. If estate agents lose control of the contract they will also lose their control over all other industry participants.