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04 February 2009


A New Growth Industry

Peter Mericka
Peter Mericka

by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B

Since Scott Goodman of Goodman Group Conveyancing started his “Goodman Group Conveyancing Referral Service”, bribery and corruption in the conveyancing and real estate industries of Victoria has shifted to over-drive.

The price for a conveyancing referral (or bribe) has now reached $150 per referral, and it seems that no estate agent wants to miss out.

Scott Goodman, of Goodman Group Conveyancing is having a huge impact on the Victorian conveyancing industry by setting the price paid for real estate agent referrals at an all-time high of $150.

I am aware of at least three conveyancing businesses in the Melbourne metropolitan area who have complained that their workload has dropped significantly since Goodman raised the bribe amount to $150.

I am also aware of estate agents who have ended long-standing relationships with their local conveyancers in order to take advantage of Goodman’s unbeatable offer.

It seems that the Goodman bribe offer is going viral too, with estate agents even discussing and promoting it on Facebook.

One agency sales manager is said to have ordered all sales representatives to ensure that referrals are directed to Goodman, with the bribe payments being directed not to the individual referring agents, but to the agency itself. (Real estate agencies need another income stream when times are hard.)

I emailed the committee of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (Victorian Division) (AICVIC) and put it to them that their failure to condemn referral payment bribes has largely contributed to the Goodman phenomenon, but as expected they had nothing to offer to the debate – they’re very coy about this bribery stuff.

Anyway, it’s a new year, so let’s put a positive spin on it.

Perhaps Goodman Group’s strategy will help to get the economy moving again, with estate agents supplementing their meagre commissions with referral fees and spending big on local produce as well as imported luxuries.

We may see a complete change in the conveyancing industry, with mega-firms competing aggressively for referrals in order to maintain the massive volumes needed to keep them going. (The collateral damage done as the smaller conveyancing businesses are choked out of existence is an unfortunate but natural part of this process. But then again, they entered the industry via the referral payment door in the first place, didn’t they.)

Competition is the name of the game, or so the conveyancers and industry advisers have been telling us.

The Goodman Group Conveyancing Referral Service could be seen as a natural development of the competition conveyancers have been arguing for all these years.

As for the benefits for consumers…give me some more time – I can’t think of any at the moment.

I have titled this opinion piece, “Conveyancing Bribes – A New Growth Industry”. I make the observation that some growths need urgent surgical intervention!

Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
is Real Estate Lawyer and Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
He is a Director of Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd

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