[Author – Tim ODwyer]
Funny how Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading annually licenses estate agents to give them a monopoly on charging fees for selling property.
Yet, when grieving folk complained about agents’ following up on funeral notices, the Fair Trading Minister was “appalled”, and described the practice as “abhorrent”. Meanwhile another Beattie government minister had to direct the removal of a section of a TAFE Estate Agents’ training manual (supplied by the REIQ) detailing how to use Death Notices to secure sales listings.
On Channel 9’s A CURRENT AFFAIR, I described funeral notice trawling as “the pits, the very, very bottom of real estate practice.” Using Death Notices to tout for sales listings has been going on for years. But this is only the ugly tip of an offensive iceberg of unwelcome harassment of property owners through letters, phone calls and the like. It doesn’t matter whether the tactics are high-pressure or extremely subtle, none of us expects or tolerates these sorts of personal approaches from any other trade or profession licensed or regulated by government. Why are agents allowed to invade the privacy of property-owners?
The laws relating to real estate agents need to be toughened up, as I have said on radio and on TV, to ban agents making unsolicited personal contact with owners in any situation.
If people wish to sell with an agent they will choose one – at their own convenience. Let agents promote themselves and their selling services , but a legal line must be drawn. A duty to respect the privacy of property owners must be an enforceable condition of the lucrative monopoly which every real estate licence ensures.
This problem also occurs in Victoria. Changing Places, a real estate agency operated by estate agent Cameron Fisher AAPI, has used the probate notices of The Age newspaper as a means of promoting its services. In my opinion it’s a truly disgusting practice.
Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B – Lawyers Conveyancing