Promises made must be kept

2016-04

REAL ESTATE AGENTS should fulfill the incentives they promise to prospective purchasers when handling firsthand residential property transactions. Otherwise, they may be subject to disciplinary action by the Estate Agents Authority.

Two salespersons arranged an inspection to a show flat of a firsthand residential property for a prospective purchaser.

During the visit, the would-be buyer asked how much cash rebate could be offered to her if she bought the property through the pair.

They promised her 2 percent of the price as a cash rebate, and the same amount of rebate to her relatives if they also purchase flats through them.

Enticed by the promise, the buyer and her relatives purchased four units of that development through the estate agency that employed the two agents.

But the two agents later informed the purchaser they could only offer cash rebates of 1.5 percent, which prompted the woman and her relatives to lodge a complaint with the EAA.

The EAA Disciplinary Committee found the pair had failed to comply with the guidelines set out in Practice Circular 13-04(CR) issued by the authority, which stipulates licensees must set out in writing any incentives, including any gifts, discounts or rebates, that they have offered to prospective purchasers, and stipulate clearly the terms and format of the incentives.

They also brought discredit and disrepute to the estate agency trade, and were thus in breach of paragraph 3.7.2 of the Code of Ethics.

The Disciplinary Committee reprimanded and fined each of them HK$15,000.

Their licences were suspended for two months, and they were required to obtain 12 points in the core subjects of the Continuing Professional Development Scheme.