I have a problem with a real estate sales person or a real estate agency. What can I do?
You have a number of options, however, we would recommend you approach it in this manner:
1. Talk to the branch manager of the real estate agency you are dealing with.
Phone the office, ask for the name of the 'Office Branch Manager', write that down, then ask to be put through to them. Discuss your issue(s) with them in a calm, rational manner, telling them of your issue(s) and why they are an issue for you. Ask them for a copy of their "In House" complaints and dispute resolution procedure, which they are required to have by law, and ask them what they can do to resolve the matter. Hopefully, the matter will get resolved over the phone. If this is so, then make notes of what was agreed to and send the branch manager an email or letter confirming what you understand the agreement to be. It is important for you to include in this letter details of your issue(s) prior to it being resolved and a request that receipt of this letter is sent back to you. Keep a copy of this letter for yourself.
2. I talked to the branch manager and I am still not happy with what they are suggesting as a solution.
Should you not be able to resolve this issue over the phone, then you need to ensure you get a copy of their "In House" complaints and dispute resolution procedure. It should read similar to what we have said here. You then need to send an email or letter to the branch manager stating that you have a complaint and outline your issue(s), including what you would like them to do to resolve these. Following this, there should be more communication from the branch ,anager to you. Hopefully the result of this will resolve the matter.
3. I am still in disagreement with the branch manager as to how we resolve this issue.
Once you have got to this stage, then it appears that you will need outside intervention to get a resolution. There are a few ways this can happen, however, I will cover one consensual and one adversarial approach that we have knowledge about. The first is the consensual approach by taking the matter to mediation. Either contact us directly by filling in the form above and clicking "send message" or phone us on 0800 746 225 and we will talk you through the process. Depending on the situation, our fees for involvement either get paid for by the real estate agency or there is an agreement to some form of a split. As mediation is a voluntary process, it will only happen if both sides agree to take the matter to mediation. If both side want to go to mediation, then typically we can set a mediation date within a week from the completing of the paperwork.
4. I want to go to mediation but the real estate agency is refusing.
This now leaves the adversarial option, which is a formal complaint to the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA). Their website is www.reaa.govt.nz. You don't need to follow the procedure that I have outlined above as you are perfectly entitled to go straight to the REAA with your complaint at any time. However, no one is perfect and we humans do make mistakes. I believe that it is preferable to give a person or an organisation the opportunity to fix a mistake or error that they have made first. If they cannot, or will not, put it right as far as you are concerned then yes, it is nice to have the REAA as a backstop. As with all adversarial procedures, once you make a complaint, the power is taken away from you and transferred to the REAA Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC). The issue is now out of your hands and what they determine is final, with limited rights of appeal. You can not withdraw a complaint once it has been made. The REAA publish some of their decisions. You can access these direct from the REAA website. Currently there is a considerable time delay from when you lodge your complaint until it is heard.