Grieving home-owners should not be harrassed by real estate agents.
Article originally published APRIL 23, 2004 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
It’s been going on for years, Minister.
Queensland’s new Fair-Trading Minister, Margaret Keech, is reportedly appalled by revelations that some agents in Queensland are targeting grieving homeowners.
The Minister’s reaction follows a complaint by a bereaved Brisbane woman this month. The day after the funeral of a loved one, the woman says she received three phone calls from agents wanting to know if she was selling her home.
The new Queensland Minister may be even more appalled to learn that chasing bereaved families is nothing new in the real estate industry. It’s been going on for years.
The story is always the same – a grieving home owner is harassed by agents, the home owner complains, the community is outraged, the Fair Trading Minister is appalled and the state Real Estate Institutes deny that they support such a grubby tactic.
The current claim by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) that it does not endorse the tactic of chasing bereaved people is like the infamous denial and cover-up that occurred in Victoria back in 2000. Following a call to a radio station from a distraught widower – who had been harassed by agents on the day his wife’s death notice appeared – the real estate spin machine swung into action. Not to protect the widower, of course, but to protect the agents.
The CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), Mr Enzo Raimondo, said the institute was “disgusted”. He also said the tactic was “isolated” and that any agents caught using the tactic could be expelled from the institute or required to “undertake a training course”.
So concerned was the REIV with its image, that it placed a series of advertisements in newspapers claiming that REIV agents were not involved in “intrusion into grief”.
However, at the same time as it was running its public campaign of denial, the REIV was privately selling a training manual written by a member of the REIV which listed 69 methods for agents to find new business. One of those methods was ‘Follow Up Death Notices’. Another method was ‘Visit Nursing Homes and Retirement Villages’.
Following later revelations of this duplicity, the manual was quietly withdrawn. Silence, denials, cover-ups – anything to protect the image of the agents – it’s the real estate way of life.
Today most Queensland agents would be appalled at the news that some agents are chasing death notices. However, don’t expect any public admissions.
The first rule in the REIQ’s so-called “Code of Ethics” is rigid. Agents must always show “loyalty to the Institute” and “must never publicly criticise a fellow member”.
Hopefully, in her role as the protector of consumers, the new Fair-Trading Minister will not be influenced by the denials of the REIQ.
Whether it’s the tactic of chasing grieving families or false quoting or dummy bidding or investment scams, the Minster must understand that, when dealing with the real estate industry, she is dealing with decades of entrenched deceit, cover-ups and denials.
When it comes to the REIQ, their code of ethics is little more than a code of silence.
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