Beware of Enzo Raimondo’s “Wheelers & Dealers”

Peter Mericka B.A., LL.BOPINION
by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Consumer Advocate
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
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There are few things more dangerous for real estate consumers than estate agents who fancy themselves as “wheelers and dealers”. They are usually the ones who cause the wheels to fall off real estate transactions, usually because one party or the other feels that they have been let down. Enzo Raimondo not only acknowledges that estate agents like to do a bit of “wheeling and dealing”, he actually suggests that they are licensed to do so. It seems that silly old Enzo doesn’t know the difference between taking licence and being licensed!

Estate Agents Are NOT Licensed to wheel and dealEnzo Raimondo - CEO Real Estate Institute of Victoria

Enzo Raimondo is the Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, and he really should know better when he tells consumers (see “Market Talk” of 1 March, 2008 (The Age – Domain p.3) that estate agents are “licensed to wheel and deal”.

The fact is that estate agents have never been licensed to wheel and deal, assuming of course that “wheeling and dealing” relates to the negotiations associated with finalising a real estate sale. It is simply impossible for an estate agent have any meaningful role in real estate negotiations, the reason being that the estate agent has a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the negotiations.

Why Estate Agents Are Licensed

Originally, estate agents were required to be licensed because they were handling trust money. Since the first estate agent legislation was passed there have been minor additions, mainly to prevent estate agents from “taking license”. In other words, estate agents have always overreached their role, putting clients and themselves at risk. Licensing and regulating estate agents was seen as a way of limiting bad behaviour.

As estate agents crept into the realm of real estate law, amendments were made to accommodate and legitimise their behaviour. For example, legislation was relaxed so as to allow an estate agent to fill in the blanks of a Contract Note document, without the estate agent being guilty of a criminal offence by undertaking legal work when unqualified.

Enzo’s Comment Is Quite Irresponsible

An estate agent’s licence will allow the estate agent to fill in the blanks in a Contract Note if a purchaser requests the estate agent to do so. However, estate agents, with the counsel and assistance of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), have taken this even further. Estate agents now draft special conditions to be inserted into a purchaser’s contract. And in some cases purchasers are forced to accept the most onerous and unfair conditions being inserted into their offers by “wheeler dealer” estate agents acting in their own interests rather than those of their client.

This blog is full of examples of estate agents who “wheel and deal” when they have neither a right nor a reason to be in any way involved at the contract stage. It is my belief that such behaviour is condoned, if not encouraged by the REIV. Comments from the CEO of the REIV, suggesting that estate agents are licensed to wheel and deal are irresponsible, to say the least.

I would encourage Enzo Raimondo to learn the difference between taking licence and being licensed!

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