"Unethical" agent escapes with fine

Consumer and Business Service (CBS) South Australia will not suspend the license of an Adelaide real estate agent despite being found guilty of unprofessional conduct, a decision which has disappointed the Real Estate Institute of SA (REISA).

In 2008, Daniel Overduin sold an elderly woman’s property to a developer friend of his brother’s for $135,000, well under the house's worth.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Paul White said the price was well below market value and Mr Overduin failed to consider whether the elderly vendor had the required mental capacity to give instructions. According to the report by the District Court of South Australia, three years later the property sold for $491,047.53.

“This was a case of serious neglect of duty and could have resulted in the cancellation or suspension of Mr Overduin’s licence," Commissioner White said.

“The judge took into account Mr Overduin’s previous unblemished record and decided that the public would be sufficiently protected by a fine and reprimand."

Mr Overduin was fined $14,000 for unprofessional conduct.

“This case sends a strong signal to estate agents they need to maintain proper standards of conduct,” Mr White added.

Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) chief executive officer Greg Troughton said Mr Overduin’s actions were "unethical", and the industry body has since cancelled the agent's membership of REISA.

“It is disappointing that Mr Overduin’s real estate license wasn’t cancelled or at the very least suspended, but that is a matter for Consumer and Business Services,” he said.

“I was livid to hear of an agency’s disregard for a client’s best interest and immediately sought a meeting with Mr Overduin to discuss his membership status.”

According to Mr Troughton, the REISA’s response to Mr Overduin actions should act as a reminder to other members, and the public, that ethics and professionalism must be at the core of all real estate agencies. 

“It was made clear to him that he had breached the Real Estate Code many times, his conduct was unethical and continuation of his membership was untenable," Mr Troughton continued.

“As a consequence, he tendered his resignation to prevent any further action by REISA."

“REISA has gone to lengths to ensure that poor practitioners can be removed as members with the door to future membership firmly shut through the introduction of a fit and proper person test.

“If a real estate practitioner has been convicted of an offence in a court of law, they will not pass the fit and proper person test which is a key to being considered for membership.

“Our Institute will be following up on the cessation of membership to ensure that Mr Overduin does not use any REISA documentation in the future and we will also ensure his promotion of membership ceases forthwith.”

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