New identity checks for vendors are not upsetting the public as much as some Western Australia-based agents had expected, the head of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) has claimed.
“Some agents were concerned this new onus on sellers might meet with some resistance, especially from long term and repeat clients well known to the agent, but I’m pleased to report that generally sellers understand this new requirement and endorse it,” Anne Arnold, REIWA’s chief executive, said.
Mrs Arnold was responding to the recent implementation of the new 100-point on ID verification in WA, following two fraudulent sales involving Nigeria-based scams.
“The two Nigerian property scams that have occurred in WA in recent times have been possible because identity checks have not previously been a requirement as part of the listing process when selling a home,” Mrs Arnold said.
“However, as technology has advanced it has become possible for scammers to fake an identity and present themselves to a real estate agent as the legitimate owner of a property they don’t in fact own.”
Another Nigerian scam involving the fraudulent sale of an apartment was detected prior to selling in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in September.
The REIWA said that, in both Nigerian property scams that occurred in Perth, con artists were able to convince the agent, the settlement agent, the banks and Landgate that they were the title holder and could sell the property.
Once the transfers had occurred and the sales settled it became apparent that everyone had been duped, including the legitimate owners of the houses.
In response to these frauds, the state government has implemented a system whereby the seller of a property must produce evidence of their identity in much the same way as banks when a customer opens an account.
When sellers are unable to be with the agent at the time of listing their property they must have their identity documents sighted by a suitable witness such as JP, doctor, police officer or pharmacist, amongst others.
“We understand that this is probably inconvenient for sellers and agents, but most people would agree that it’s a small price to avoid another such incident,” Mrs Arnold said.