Discipline is instilled in us from the day we first come into the world – even if at that stage it is confined to the rules for eating, drinking and sleeping! Responsible parents instil discipline into our psyche as soon as we are able to comprehend and follow their instructions. In those formative years parents and obliging off-spring can lay the foundation for a disciplined life in later years. The Collins Dictionary describes discipline as “the practice of imposing strict rules of behaviour”. Irrespective of the career path we may follow, there are always rules, regulations and recognised standards of ethics and business practice that responsible persons observe provided they are operating in a disciplined manner.
Taking a look at the real estate industry, it would be fair to say that these days we operate under fairly rigid disciplinary rules and regulations. The Real Estate Agents Act 2008 includes a section covering ‘Complaints and Discipline’ and the Act also established the governing body; the Real Estate Authority (REA) which includes the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal. The REA is the public watchdog on standards of practice and disciplinary matters and oversees the ethical behaviour of licensed members. The REA also has on its website, a public register which is open for perusal by members of the public. The register records any proven public complaints against licensed operators in the preceding three years, and equally as important, it shows licensees that have an unblemished record.
Add to this the industry Code of Conduct and you will see we operate under clearly defined rules as to what is acceptable and expected conduct from reputable agents. Tommy’s strictly adhere to the rules and regulations that are set for the industry but we also have strict internal standards that any representatives of our company are expected to observe. As in any team, we are judged by not only our best performers but also by anyone who transgresses or strays from what are acceptable standards of practice.
Over the years, all real estate agents have been maligned and cast in the same category as those who have transgressed – which is an unjust stigma on the industry as a whole. We believe there are many professional real estate agents who go about their business in accordance with industry rules and good business practice and who operate professionally and ethically in their dealings with the public. Considering the large number of sales transacted by industry licensed real estate agents, the number of complaints has always been miniscule and this has been reinforced by a recent newspaper release from the REA on Saturday 2nd November.
To quote, “The conduct of real estate agents continues to improve with a record low number of complaints being lodged with the Real Estate Authority. REA chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith says 296 complaints were received in the last year and findings of unsatisfactory conduct were reduced by 35% over the last 3 years to 102. He released the figures while commenting on new rules that make it easier for consumers to be compensated for unsatisfactory conduct by a real estate agent. Aggrieved consumers can now seek compensation through the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal of up to $100,000 for loss due to unsatisfactory conduct by a real estate agent. This change to the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 applies to misconduct that occurs after October 29th.”
It appears the most common area for disputes and complaints is around the subject of disclosure. We have said it before and we say it again, homeowners on becoming vendors have a responsibility of full disclosure when placing their property for sale with a real estate agent. Any item that may influence a buyer’s decision must be disclosed. It is an area that is often glossed-over and not openly discussed between agent and homeowner and subsequently may become a problem. If agents are not informed, how can we be expected to pass the appropriate information on to prospective home buyers?
At Tommy’s, we have rigid standards of practice that we deem to be acceptable to a market-leading team, and we expect our sales team to show strong discipline and adhere to these standards as well as to those laid down by the REA. Real estate agents sell a vast number of properties each year and as reported by the REA there are some 15,137 active agents in the industry. To our way of thinking, 102 upheld complaints of unsatisfactory trading over the last 3 years from this number of agents shows an industry where compliance is at a high level and generally speaking we have a record of compliance and discipline that we can be proud of.
Speaking for Tommy’s, customer satisfaction is paramount. We have a complaints procedure set out on our website, but we believe that direct communication is the best method of resolving any problems and we invite you to call our management team should you have a need to do so when transacting business with our company.