Property Finders Beware

A Petone property trader has been fined $30,000 for acting without a licence in a case that is likely to set an industry precedent.
The charge of carrying out real estate agency work without being licensed or exempt was laid against Francisca Dorien Forster and her company Home Buyers by the Real Estate Agents Authority.
It is the first time someone has been found guilty of the charge since the Real Estate Agents Act was introduced in 2008.
Forster, whose website boasts how she made millions in the property game, holds seminars with daughter Rineke Forster about how to make money in the industry.
In his reserved decision, Judge Bruce Davidson found Forster guilty of the charge relating to a particular transaction in which she tried to broker the sale of a Kelson house between the owners and potential buyers last year.
Judge Davidson said that, although Forster had never claimed to be a real estate agent, it was clear that she was acting like one as she conducted an open home, marketed the property, arranged viewings, negotiated the price and prepared contracts.
After the buyer insisted on a contract directly with the sellers, Home Buyers should have backed out of the transaction and not tried to secure a finder’s fee, he said. “If until then an absence of fault might have been shown, which is debatable, this activity reeks of fault.
“Both defendants became intent on securing their fee showing that, throughout, their conduct was all designed to secure a fee for selling a house without any form of the usual protections afforded by the Real Estate Agents Act.”
Forster said it was made clear at each transaction that she was not a real estate agent.
Advice was given to all parties to obtain independent legal advice and in this particular case the transaction was amended at the recommendation of the buyer’s lawyer, she said. It was not expected to make a difference, but inadvertently led to Home Buyers breaching the act.

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