A Tasmanian couple is being
sued for commission by a real estate agency which was not
involved in the sale of their home. The agency is claiming
it held a 120-day agency to sell the home; the owners say
their signatures on a document were obtained by deception
and that they have suffered "emotional and mental torment".
"Selling our home was supposed to be a pleasurable experience
and it has turned into a complete and absolute nightmare,"
Jeanette and Edward said they first had contact with a salesperson,
'S’, when they received a phone call from him during
a campaign to seek new listings. They agreed to an appraisal
of their property but decided they did not wish to sell.
In March they received another call from S, now working for
a different agency. They again agreed to an appraisal but
declined to list their property for sale with the agency.
Around Easter they received another phone call from S, who
said he had prospective buyers wanting to look at their home.
They agreed to allow the buyers to view their home.
Jeanette said: "S told me that we had to sign a piece
of paper that was required legally to allow the people to
come and look at our house. This was arranged for Monday night,
25 March, the day before the viewing. S arrived Monday night
with this piece of paper for us to sign. I signed it and as
my husband was signing it, he said: "What’s this
for?" and I said: "It’s so the people can
have a look tomorrow" and S agreed that that was what
we were signing. Straight after it was signed S left and did
not leave us with a copy of what we had signed."
Soon after the inspection took place without the agent in
attendance, the prospective buyers decided they were not interested
in the house. Jeanette and Edward told S they had decided
not to sell their house yet anyway.
They then received another call from S who said he wanted
to take photos of their house. They repeated that they did
not want to sell their home. Later, while surfing real estate
sites on the Internet, they discovered their home had been
posted on the agency website.
Jeanette says: "I was furious and sent the agency an
e-mail telling them that as far as we were concerned, they
did not have authority to sell our house, let alone put it
on the Internet. We also told them we did not want to deal
with S and if they required to speak to us any further about
this matter that their boss was the only person we would talk
The next day they received another call from S, who advised
that their house had been taken off the market and removed
from the Internet web site. She says: "We then presumed
that it was all a stupid misunderstanding and left it at that."
Later Jeanette and Edward decided to list their home with
another agency. However, a week later they discovered that
the form they had signed earlier with S was a 120-day listing.
S’s agency insisted that the listing would stand and
that he would be entitled to a commission if the house was
sold through the second agency. His letter said: "Our
company’s policy is that we never void an authority
to sell ... It will legally remain in force for 120 days ...
It is important you realise the implications of selling the
property with another real estate company."
After the house sold the first agency wrote to the selling
agency claiming a $4,310 commission for the sale of the house.
Jeanette said: "The only thing that we can see that we
have done wrong in this whole mess is to sign that stupid
piece of paper without reading it and not trusting my gut
instinct telling me not to deal with S."
The HHPF wrote to the first agency that Jeanette and Edward
were "extremely distressed" at the conduct of his
agency and the agency appeared guilty of unethical conduct
and breaches of the Trade Practices Act.
The letter advised that Jeanette and Edward had been granted
approval to use the fund to defend any litigation brought
against them by the agency. "Such proceedings will be
vigorously defended and appropriate counter-claims for damages
initiated," the letter said. Particulars would be submitted
to the Director of Fair Trading and Consumer Affairs in Tasmania,
and reported also to the ACCC.
The letter sought confirmation from the agency of the termination
of its "purported agency", confirmation that no
further claim would be made against the owners and a letter
to them regretting any inconvenience or stress caused to them.
There has been no response from the agency, which appears
to have dropped the matter.