REIV Confusion On Estate Agent Role As “Go-Between”

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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Is it any wonder that the REIV (Real Estate Institute of Victoria) misleads, misguides and misinforms its members when its own CEO Enzo Raimondo fails to understand the role of the real estate agent in a sale transaction?

In his regular propaganda piece in the Domain section of The Age newspaper, Enzo Raimondo tells consumers that when negotiating for the purchase of real estate “…the agent will act as a go-between.” (“Negotiating Hurdles” p.3 Domain, The Age 4 July, 2009)

In the very next sentence Raimondo then tells consumers, “When negotiating, keep in mind the agent acts for the seller, not the buyer.

This is followed by, “Buyers can use a buyer’s agent to help with the negotiation process.

The article concludes with “…obtain legal advice before signing any documents.

So, according the the CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), the negotiation process involves a real estate agent who represents the vendor, a real estate agent who represents the purchaser, and a real estate agent who acts as the mediator, or “go-between” during the negotiations.

One could imagine a purchaser being coached by Mr. Raimondo on how she should go about purchasing a home in Victoria; perhaps it would go something like this:

Enzo Raimondo – The Role Of The Go-Between

Raimondo: “Hello Ms.Lee, let me explain how real estate negotiations are conducted in Victoria. This is Mr. Sharkey, and he represents the vendor of the property you hope to buy.”

Sharkey: “Remember, I represent the vendor, not you.”

Ms. Lee: “Oh, I thought the real estate agent is supposed to help me to prepare my offer, to write special conditions for me and the like. Who will represent me then?”

Sharkey: “I’ll represent you as well as representing the vendor, I do it all the time. I have prepared plenty of offers for purchasers and I always use REIV special conditions when I prepare purchasers’ offers, and…OWWW!”

Raimondo apologises to Sharkey for accidentally stamping on his foot, turns to Ms. Lee, and says,

“What Mr. Sharkey means is that part of his role as the vendor’s real estate agent and representative is to act as a “go-between”, assisting both you and the vendor in the negotiation process.”

Ms. Lee: I don’t understand this role of “go-between”. If Mr. Sharkey represents the vendor, and is working for the vendor, and is not going to assist me, what is this “go-between” role?

Raimondo thinks for a few moments, then replies:

“As a “go-between”, Mr. Sharkey will help you and the vendor to negotiate a successful outcome.”

Sharkey: “That’s right, the job of the “go-between” is to get the sale all wrapped up and…OWWW! Stop doing that Enzo.”

Ms. Lee: “So Mr. Sharkey, I really should not tell you anything about my financial position or the extent of my interest in the property, because you may use this against me in order to get a sale and to get the best result for your vendor client?”

Raimondo and Sharkey look at each other nervously. Raimondo then beckons a fourth person, who comes over and joins the group.

Raimondo: “Ms. Lee, let me introduce to you Mr. Shonk. He will be your buyer’s agent. That means that he will represent you in the sale negotiations.”

Shonk: “Yes, I’m a buyer’s advocate, buyer’s agent, purchaser’s representative, call me what you like, but basically I am a real estate agent and I represent purchasers in real estate negotiations.”

Ms. Lee: “Do you also act as a “go-between”?

Shonk looks at Sharkey, who then looks at Raimondo. All are quiet for a moment, before Raimondo replies.

Raimondo: “Mr. Sharkey would be the “go-between” if you did not have Mr. Shonk representing you. But now that Mr. Shonk is representing you, there is no need for Mr. Sharkey to act as “go-between”.

Sharkey: “That’s right, and if the vendor didn’t have me representing him, Mr. Shonk would be the “go-between” and he would assist the vendor to complete the contract and wrap up the sale and…OWWW! Enzo that hurts.”

Raimondo: “Ms. Lee, what Mr. Sharkey means is that if you don’t use a buyer’s advocate like Mr. Shonk, the vendor’s estate agent has to assume the role of “go-between” in order to expedite the offer and acceptance stage of the sale.”

Sharkey: “Yeah, that’s right. If Shonk can get your signature on the contract, I don’t have to be the “go-between” and…HAH, YOU MISSED!” (Raimondo’s heel lands harmlessly in the dust where Sharkey’s toes had rested only a nanosecond before).

Ms. Lee: “Wait a minute, all this talk about getting a contract signed; Mr. Shonk, how are you paid for your service as a buyer’s advocate?”

Shonk looks a little coy, puts his hands behind his back, and looks at the ground before muttering,

“You pay me a commission on the amount you pay for the property.”

Ms. Lee: “Are you telling me that you don’t get paid if I don’t buy, and if I do buy, then you will get a share of the amount I pay for the property?”

Shonk: “No, the amount you pay me is in addition to the amount you pay for the property.”

Ms. Lee: “What? So the higher the price I pay for the property, the higher the fee I have to pay you?”

Shonk: “It sounds awful when you put it like that. I’d rather just say that I’m paid a commission that is based on results. And of course, I don’t get anything if there is no sale.”

Ms. Lee: “It seems to me that you’re all a little too interested in getting a sale finalised, because unless there’s a sale none of you will be paid. I have an estate agent who wants a sale to take place, an estate agent who wants a purchase to take place, both estate agents ready to act as “go-between” in order to have a sale/purchase take place, and no-one who is genuinely interested in me!”

Without raising their heads, Sharkey and Shonk turn their eyes to Raimondo, who explains:

Raimondo: “I always advise vendors and purchasers alike to obtain legal advice before they sign anything.”

Ms. Lee: ” But if Mr. Shonk is going to negotiate on my behalf, can’t he give me legal advice? No, wait a minute, it would be a conflict of interests for him. Can’t Mr. Sharkey give me legal advice? No, of course not, that’s an even greater conflict of interests. This is all too confusing, there are real estate agents everywhere, all telling me conflicting things but no-one who can properly advise me.”

Sharkey: “I’ll refer you to Goodman Group Conveyancing, they’ll give you all the advice you need.”

Shonk: “No, he’s only saying that because they pay him $150 for each client he refers to them. I’ll refer you Richard Wood Solicitors, I’ve sent plenty of clients to them.”

Sharkey: “You hypocrite, you only send clients to them because they give you free movie tickets!”

Raimondo: “Shut up you two, can’t you see you’re frightening Ms. Lee.”

To be continued…

Perhaps readers can come up with a concluding sequence. Just email your suggestion to me at

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