by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
A vendor should always be present during house inspections. Whenever an estate agent shows a prospective purchaser through the property, and particularly when the property is “open for inspection”, the vendor should always be on hand to protect not only personal property, but also personal privacy. This was made quite clear recently when two estate agents, both accredited as Buyers Agents, advised purchasers on “sneaky” tactics for gathering intelligence about the vendor during inspections.
Why Escorted Inspections Are Dangerous
The problems associated with “escorted inspections” are not new, and consumers regularly complain about thefts, snooping trauma and various other problems associated with estate agent controlled inspections.
The problem has been further compounded by a couple of estate agents who, having previously conducted property inspections on behalf of vendors, decided to “change sides” and use their estate agent expertise to advise potential purchasers on how to “sneak a peek” into cupboards and other private areas of a vendor’s home in order to find out whether the vendor is in distress and in need of a quick, cheap sale.
The “Hot Property Gurus”
Nicole Marsh and Liz Wilcox call themselves the “Hot Property Gurus”. According to their website, both are registered as “Buyers Agents” with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.
“Both Liz and Nicole identified the need to arm buyers with the right information and expert knowledge – therefore empowering them in the whole purchasing process to make the ‘right decision’ and on their own terms in a system that traditionally favoured sellers, not buyers.”
In order to demonstrate their inside knowledge of the industry, these “gurus” offer to potential investors, owner occupiers and first home buyers an “informative report” in which “our Property Gurus answer your burning real estate questions and shed some light on the industry’s secrets.“
The “gurus” also inform consumers, “These simple tips could save you thousands of dollars and a lot of heartache…Get the knowledge to make a well informed decision now, and purchase property on your terms not the sellers, at the best possible price.“
What is not said is that one of these “simple tips” includes material that could be described as dishonest and exploitative espionage.