Pity about the sales results.
Article originally published AUGUST 16, 2004 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
If you go to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) website and type in the word apology, a message says, “No results found. Please try again.”
The message doesn’t suggest when you should try again; but considering that the REIQ began in 1918, your chances of finding the word apology’ before 2018 are not good.
When it comes to real estate institutes, sorry really does seems to be the hardest word. Well, at least as far as consumers are concerned.
Despite decades of deceitful and unethical acts by Queensland agents that have financially and emotionally devastated thousands of Queenslanders, an apology from the REIQ is about as hard to find as an ethical and competent agent.
But when it comes to the REIQ apologising to its agents, it’s another story. Apologies come at lightening speed.
Here’s what happened.
On Wednesday, August 11, 2004, following a complaint which sources report was made by the Ray White franchise group about the activities of the RE/MAX franchise group, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a press release.
Technically, many RE/MAX salespeople were not complying with the licensing laws. This was illegal. The OFT gave these salespeople a 30-day deadline to get their licenses into order. They had to upgrade to a full agent’s license, a process that normally takes a year.
The Office of Fair Trading acted with surprising speed on this agent-based complaint. And a deadline of 30 days made it tough. Complaining agents praised the Office of Fair Trading.
On Thursday, August 12, the REIQ came to the rescue. An ‘Important Notice’ was directed to salespeople who were operating illegally. “The REIQ has a solution for those affected” read the message. And what a great offer. If they enrolled in the REIQ course by August 20 at a discounted price, the REIQ would speed-up the process, streamline the course and reduce the number of subjects needed to be studied.
You gotta hand it to the REIQ, when it comes to looking after agents, they spring into action.
But then something went terribly wrong.
As soon as the special offer was made to the offending agents, complaints poured in from other agents. Oh dear, the REIQ seemed to have overlooked that this was agents complaining about agents. And, unlike consumers who complain (and have to put their complaints in writing and wait weeks or months), the agents who complained about this special deal for their competitors got on the phone, sent emails and made it known that they wanted action. Right now.
Caught between warring factions of agents, what was the REIQ to do? Which group of agents does it protect? Simple, it protects the majority. The RE/MAX network might be big because it has managed to poach hundreds of top salespeople from other networks, but it’s not as big as Ray White and the combined might of other networks.
On Friday, August 13, the REIQ sent another important message to its agents saying it had “received significant negative feedback about the Institute’s initiative”.
The now quivering Queensland Institute then said, “While the proposed course was always intended to uphold the rigorous standards” of the REIQ, it had “decided to withdraw the course”.
Within 24 hours of trying to protect a small group of its members, the REIQ did a complete back-flip following complaints from a larger group of its members. Ah, the commitment of the REIQ when it comes to protecting agents.
And then came something that Queensland’s legions of ripped-off real estate consumers just can’t seem to find when dealing with the REIQ – an apology.
“On behalf of the Board, I apologise to all members for the concern this issue has raised,” said REIQ Chairman, Peter McGrath.
The REIQ often reminds consumers that its agents follow a ‘Code of Ethics’; but it rarely tells consumers about the first code in its ethics. Loyalty to the Institute.
Agents enjoy the sort of loyalty and protection that consumers only dream about.
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But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.