Real estate agents censured

Two local real estate agents have been found guilty of misconduct after threatening to bring a disciplinary complaint against another agent unless he paid them commission.

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal this week released its decision relating to a case against Michael Black and Lawrence Wong who were agents with Century 21, Pakuranga. The decision says neither defendant is currently working as an agent and Mr Wong has retired.

The tribunal censured both men, suspended them for eight months and fined each of them $1500.

They faced charges brought by the Complaints Assessment Committee arising out of their actions in attempting to coerce the complainant Ian Smith, who was working as an agent for Pakuranga and Howick Realty (PHR), to make a commission payment to them.

In 2012, a couple wishing to sell their Point View Drive property in Howick listed it with Mr Smith. “The owners of the property were very keen to sell the property as rapidly as possible so when a paid sale did not eventuate Lawrence Wong and Michael Black…entered into a joint agency with PHR to help sell the property,” the decision says.

“By April 2012 both Mr Black and an agent from the PHR (Stephen Lin) had offers for the property. A multiple offer situation arose which was managed by the vendor’s solicitor. The decision was made by the vendors to accept the offer made by Mr Lin’s purchasers and not to accept the offer from Mr Black’s clients.”

The decision says Mr Black and Mr Wong were unhappy that their client’s offer had not been accepted and spoke to the principal of Century 21, Colin Boyer, about the company making a claim for commission-sharing with PHR.

Mr Boyer did not agree with the concerns expressed by them and declined to pursue a claim for commission for them.

In July 2013, almost a year after the sale, Mr Smith was in Century 21’s office in Pakuranga when Mr Black approached him and made a request that he pay them $2000 each, which Mr Black said was their share of the commission on the property. Mr Smith declined.

Mr Smith said he was approached again in August 2013 by Mr Black who told him Mr Wong was getting very agitated about the lack of commission for the sale. At a meeting on August 7, 2013 with Mr Black at a cafe in Botany Town Centre, Mr Smith said Mr Black asked him to pay $24,000 plus GST in cash to Mr Black and Mr Wong as their commission for the sale. Mr Smith said he was told by Mr Black if he did not agree to make this payment then Mr Wong would make a complaint to the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA).

Other meetings – including an approach by Mr Black to Mr Smith in his car, and an August 13 meeting saw the demands repeated.  It was agreed that in return for not complaining to the REAA, Mr Wong and Mr Black would receive $15,000 from Mr Smith, which they wanted by August 26. After that meeting, however, Mr Smith phoned Mr Boyer, told him what had happened and met with him the next day. Mr Boyer said he would contact the pair and tell them to stop pursuing Mr Smith for the commission.