WHEN HANDLING THE sale of firsthand residential properties, estate agents should provide property information to prospective purchasers according to the latest information in the sales brochure provided by the vendor – and they must not make any representation that may mislead the purchasers.
Through two estate agents, a couple viewed the show flats of an uncompleted development. The couple told the agents they would not buy any unit on the top floor of a building as it would be too hot in summer.
The agents then introduced a unit on the 50th floor to the couple and assured them several times that the development was 51 stories high.
Before arranging for the couple to enter into a provisional agreement for sale and purchase, the estate agents also provided them with a pamphlet about the development which was issued by the estate agents’ employer but it was not the sales brochure issued by the vendor. Shortly afterwards, the couple found out from the internet that the development was actually 50 stories high – meaning that the unit they purchased was situated on the top floor.
The EAA disciplinary committee conducted an inquiry hearing into the case.
The committee ruled that both agents had misrepresented to the couple that the property was one floor below the top floor of the development when in fact it was not true.
They were in breach of paragraph 3.7.2 of the Code of Ethics – which stipulates that “estate agents and salespersons should avoid any practice which may bring discredit and/or disrepute to the estate agency trade.”
The disciplinary committee decided to reprimand both agents, suspend their licenses for a period of 14 days, and require them to obtain 12 points under the Continuing Professional Development Scheme within 12 months.