Inside the Queensland real estate course.
Article originally published APRIL 27, 2004 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
What sort of real estate agents harass the bereaved relatives of someone who has recently died?
That was the question asked last week after a distraught homeowner claimed to have received three calls from agents the day after the funeral of a loved one.
The answer is simple. Agents who have completed the Queensland Government’s approved real estate licensing course.
A Brisbane real estate agent has revealed that he was taught to follow up death notices while studying for his real estate license last year.
The agent has supplied documents from the course to confirm his claim. An extract from the Open Learning Institute of TAFE contains the words ‘Queensland Government’ beside the state’s well-known rays of sunshine logo. Under the topic (ABH525) ‘Listings’, students are given various methods of finding homes for sales (known in the industry as listings).
On page 19, is the bold heading Death Notices.
The course teaches, “Sellers in these instances are usually more difficult to handle and under a degree of stress.” New agents are advised to “observe how more experienced peers” follow up bereaved relatives “before attempting to prospect these sources”.
While students are made aware that there is “an ethical question often raised with respect to bereaved relatives”, the question is quickly brushed aside with the justification that distraught family members are “going to need the help of a good salesperson” to sell their home.
Agents are advised to strike “sooner rather than later” when contacting bereaved homeowners.
“The key to having bereaved relatives invite you to give a listing presentation when the time comes, is to achieve top of mind awareness once the period of shock and bereavement has passed,” say the course notes.
It seems, therefore, that agents who contact relatives the day after the funeral of a loved one are simply following government approved procedures.
The licensing course also encourages agents to write to bereaved homeowners. Rather than a typed letter, agents are told that it “may be appropriate” to write “a handwritten letter, on the company letterhead, expressing your sorrow at the loss to the community.”
The course topic ends with this advice to budding agents – “To source these listings, read the ‘Death Notices’ section of the local papers. Funeral directors may also be useful contacts within your sphere of influence.”
According to the Queensland Minister for Fair Trading, Margaret Keech, agents who use death notices to find homes for sale could face action from the Office of Fair Trading.
However, offending agents are only following what they are taught in the real estate licensing course approved by the Queensland Government.
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