Coming up short with sea view

2017-09

Verifying information about a property before presenting it to a potential buyer is a cornerstone responsibility for an estate agent.

A failure to do so could lead to disciplinary action by the Estate Agents Authority, as a salesman representing both buyer and seller in a residential property transaction discovered.

He arranged a site check of the property, which had an open sea view, with the prospective purchaser.

As there were two building sites in front of the property, the buyer asked about height restrictions on these building sites as he was worried the sea view would be blocked.

The salesman’s response was that a part of the sea view would be retained as a height restriction of 50 meters applied to the sites.

After signing a provisional agreement for sale and purchase, the buyer discovered from a check on the internet that the height restrictions on the two building sites had been relaxed and raised from 50 to 65 meters.

Aggrieved, he lodged a complaint with the Estate Agents Authority.

The EAA disciplinary committee took the view that the salesman had failed to exercise due care and diligence in verifying the height restriction of the buildings and made a false presentation to the purchaser.

He was in breach of paragraph 3.5.1 of the EAA’s code of ethics, which states that “estate agents and salespersons shall in fulfilling their duties exercise due care and due diligence.”

The committee suspended the salesman’s license for seven days and also attached a condition to it, requiring him to obtain 12 points in the core subjects of the Continuing Professional Development Scheme within 12 months.

(14 September 2017)

(Published in The Standard)