‘Not acceptable’ for agents to keep key details from buyers

The regulator has punished an agent who failed to disclose important information about a property before it was sold.

Craig John Timmens from Harcourts Mandurah in regional WA was fined $1,500 by the State Administrative Tribunal.

LBC Holdings, trading as Harcourts Mandurah, was also fined $3,000. The agent and agency were also ordered to pay costs of $1,000.

The action related to a Mandurah listing in June 2013, when a pre-sale inspection identified moisture and dampness in the walls of the property, according to Consumer Protection.

“The buyer asked the agent whether this could be rectified under the strata company’s insurance policy and the agent indicated that he would obtain some information about the insurance situation,” according to the regulator.

“After some time and prior to settlement, the agent was advised by the strata manager of the unit complex that some rectification work had already been carried out on the unit by the insurance company and the claim had been closed.

“This information was not disclosed to the buyer until after settlement, in breach of the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and the Code of Conduct for Agents and Sales Representatives.”

REB called Mr Timmens for comment, but he did not respond to a voicemail by publication deadline.

The Harcourts chief executive for WA, Paul Blakeley, told REB that the franchise took the incident seriously.

“We certainly understand the importance of disclosing important information about a property prior to sale, and in this particular case we do have to note that the original charge was significantly downgraded due to the steps Mr Timmens took in this particular scenario,” he said.

“That being said, our Mandurah office has undergone further training since to ensure we minimise the risk of this happening in the future.”

WA’s acting commissioner for consumer protection, Gary Newcombe, said agents are obliged to both ascertain and disclose any material facts about a property during the sales process.

“In this case, from the buyer’s point of view, the ability to claim future repair works against the insurance for the strata company was important, and so anything affecting that ability was a material fact that ought to have been disclosed,” he said.

“It is not acceptable for agents or sales representatives to hold back in disclosing information that would be considered to be material about a property just because they do not think that it is a material fact or have assumed that the person may already know about the information.”

[LinkedIn: What can be done to improve the industry’s image?]

promoted stories

REB Events