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Complaints Against Real Estate Industry at a Five-Year Low

MEDIA RELEASE – NOVEMBER 19, 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Complaints Against Real Estate Industry at a Five-Year Low

Complaints against licensed real estate professionals are at the lowest level in five years, the industry regulator says.

The Real Estate Authority (REA) received 337 complaints against licensed real estate agents in the last year. The volume of complaints has dropped 50 per cent since 2013.

REA chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith says the reduction in complaints reflects both increased work with the industry to improve standards, including REA’s increased intervention with parties before issues become complaints, and a focus on educating and informing home buyers and sellers.

“We have worked hard to upskill licensed real estate agents through continuing professional development and support. We’re also proud of settled.govt.nz, the website we created that gives consumers independent information and advice to help them navigate the complexities of buying and selling property.

“The huge reduction in complaints, and the fact that less than one per cent (0.85 %) of these complaints resulted in a finding of misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct against a licensee, shows that this work is having a positive result.”

Lampen-Smith says new changes to the laws governing real estate transactions will further improve the experience for complainants.

The Real Estate Agents Act (2008) is among laws amended by the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Act, which came into force on November 14.

These amendments change how complaints are handled by the real estate regulator. When the amendments come into force (likely to be in 2019) they will increase the ability of the separate Real Estate Authority Disciplinary Tribunal to award compensation to complainants.

From November 14, the lower-level complaints that have been resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction through REA’s Early Resolution Service will not have to go through a Complaints Assessment Committee. Last year 184 of the 337 complaints were successfully resolved in this way.

“This legislative change recognises that the majority of issues can be resolved by better communication and understanding between the parties,” Lampen-Smith says.

“This is a positive result for the small number of consumers who suffer significant loss as a result of poor behaviour by a licensed real estate professional.”

The changes will apply to all new complaints received by REA from November 14 onwards.

“We are continuing to work towards a better real estate experience for all,” says Lampen-Smith. “The reduction in complaints shows the success of our efforts to work with the industry to promote higher standards, and to educate consumers about the biggest financial transaction many of them will ever make.”

In future, the Tribunal will be able to order a licensee who they have found to have engaged in unsatisfactory conduct to pay up to $100,000 compensation to anyone who has suffered a financial loss as a specific result of the conduct. This change is expected to come into force in 2019.


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