Archive | Real Estate Agents Authority

Agent’s licence cancelled for fraudulent deals within year of previous suspension

Auckland real estate agent Rajneel Raj has had his licence cancelled for his involvement in a scheme to deceive homebuyers and using falsely inflated purchase & deposit amounts for loans, all done within a year of his return from a previous suspension.
 
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal said Mr Raj & associates had pocketed $189,000 of profit on top of commissions: “The defendant’s misconduct is of the most serious type. It involves, among other things, dishonesty, forgery & non-disclosure of the financial benefits amounting to more than $189,000.”
 
Counsel appearing for Mr Raj at the penalty hearing in April, Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki, said his client was suffering from chronic depression, including an anxiety complex, and had been on a sickness benefit since April 2012. The tribunal noted that the offending was in late 2010, well before the mental health problems were diagnosed.
 
Mr Barron-Afeaki said Mr Raj claimed to have been hoodwinked by 3 Indian accomplices, who had disappeared after using his status as an agent.
 
Mr Raj was not long back in the business after having his certificate suspended in 2008 by the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board, on the application of the Real Estate Institute.
 
The institute said Mr Raj, acting as an approved salesman at Barfoot & Thompson Ltd’s Otahuhu branch, had sold property to family members in 2006-07, deliberately not complying with his obligations under the Real Estate Agents Act and to the agency. He’d tried to disguise the second & third transactions so they wouldn’t appear to be to family members.
 
The maximum period the licensing board could cancel his licence for was 3 years. It decided to cancel for 2 years, backdated a year to the start of his interim suspension in November 2007, and imposed a $750 monetary penalty.
 
Mr Raj came before the new Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal last year on charges of misconduct brought by the also-new Real Estate Agents Authority. He didn’t appear at the hearing and was convicted on 6 misconduct charges in July 2012.
 
The tribunal ordered Mr Raj to pay compensation totalling just under $90,000 – sums of $65,000, $12,579 & $11,995 to 3 complainants – cancelled his real estate licence and ordered that no real estate licensee employ or engage him in connection with real estate agency work, ordered that a fine of $10,000 go to the Real Estate Agents Authority and made a tribunal costs order of $2000.
 
Attribution: Decisions.

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Real Estate Institute takes umbrage at new authority’s proposed 50% fee hike

Published 13 October 2010

The Real Estate Agents Authority has proposed a 50% levy increase for all real estate agents, and the Real Estate Institute reacted strongly to it yesterday.

Consultation with the industry began on Monday and runs until Sunday 31 October.

 The projections included in the new authority’s statement of Intent show income from operating levies & applications for 2011 will need to more than double – from $2.8 million to $6.630 million – and then double again to $12 million in 2012.

The authority, a statutory organisation, has taken over licensing of real estate agents from the institute.

Institute chairman Rosanne Meo said yesterday the institute was committed to working constructively with the authority and supported the establishment of a regulatory body for the industry. But she added: “We cannot support a significantly large increase in levies being imposed on an already stressed industry.

“We are very concerned about the timing & the quantum of the proposed levy increase. We challenge the basis of the proposed levy increase and regard it as neither fair nor reasonable.”

The authority is proposing to increase levies from $495 to $760/year. The levy funds the complaints process, the provision of information to consumers and licensing people &companies who work in the real estate industry.

Mrs Meo said: “We understand the authority intends to raise their levies to help offset an assumed increase in complaints as well as a shortfall of income due to an unplanned decline in the number of licensees.

“In fact, we know that the number of complaints has fallen from 55/week to an average of 14/week and the drop in licences sadly reflects the marketplace.”

She said an independent benchmarking analysis undertaken recently by Grant Thornton showed that, when compared to other regulatory bodies, the cost of processing a complaint through the Real Estate Agents Authority was 5-24 times more expensive. “In fact, one organisation is able to process its complaints up to 72 times cheaper than the authority.

“The cost of processing a complaint through the Real Estate Agents Authority seems high. The economic climate has placed a huge strain on our industry. The authority’s focus needs to be on managing costs rather than simply passing on more costs through further levy increases.”

The institute is encouraging all its members to make submissions against the proposed increase in levies because, it said, the industry hadn’t sufficiently recovered from the global economic recession and wanted the authority to undertake a cost-efficiency analysis of the complaints process before any increase.

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Attribution: Institute release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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