Talking to the experts

 

Talking to the experts
There are a number of experts who can make the buying and selling experience safer for you and safer for consumers. It’s important to encourage consumers to take time to seek independent expert advice about the property they are buying or the contract they are entering. Complaints often arise where consumers haven’t been offered the opportunity to seek expert advice, and consumers may feel the licensee should have been responsible for providing certain information. Licensees can protect themselves by referring consumers to expert advice where appropriate and recording in writing that they gave consumers this opportunity. 

When you are referring people to experts, be careful not to recommend one expert over another. Providing a list of possible experts is fine, but you are exposing yourself to risk if you recommend only one. We’ve put together a list of the commonly used experts you can recommend consumers speak to during a transaction. 

Lawyer
Lawyers are a key part of the transaction and possibly the most important expert for consumers to speak to. They will often encourage their clients to seek other expert advice too. Rule 9.7 of the Code of Conduct says you must recommend consumers seek legal advice before signing contractual documents.

The New Zealand Law Society website has a database to help people find a lawyer here

REAA receives a high number of complaints where the consumer says they were not given the opportunity to seek legal advice or were encouraged by the licensee to not take legal advice before signing the agreement for sale and purchase or agency agreement. We commonly hear “They told me it was a standard contract.” Every person’s situation is different, and it’s important for the consumer to talk over their individual situation with their lawyer first. We believe a number of complaints against licensees could be avoided by licensees ensuring consumers have time to consult their lawyer and licensees recording in writing that this opportunity was given. 

Building inspector
Building inspectors in New Zealand range in qualifications and experience, and the industry is not regulated. We recommend you advise buyers to use inspectors who conform to the New Zealand standard NZS 4306:2005. This standard requires inspectors to carry professional indemnity insurance, and buyers should ask to see evidence of the inspector’s insurance cover.

Some inspectors who conform to the standard can be found on the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand website or on the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors website, although there will be other inspectors who are not listed on those websites who still conform to the New Zealand standard.

Again, complaints can arise where licensees recommend only one building inspector and the building inspector fails to pick up a problem. The consumer’s perspective is often that the licensee deliberately recommended that one inspector because the licensee knew the inspector wouldn’t report on the problem. This issue is easily avoided by providing a list of potential inspectors. 

Accountant/tax specialist
Are the parties to the transaction registered for GST? Are you selling a business? It’s important for parties to understand what the tax implications of a tax transaction might be. Licensees are not expected to be tax experts but should be able to recognise when a buyer or seller should be referred to an accountant or tax specialist. 

The REAA receives the occasional complaint from consumers who have been given incorrect advice by licensees about the GST implications of a transaction. Don’t expose yourself to this risk – refer parties to tax experts instead. 

Methamphetamine testing company
Buyers are increasingly interested in having properties tested for meth contamination, especially where the property has been used as a rental property. The recently released New Zealand standard for testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties (NZS 8510:2017) provides guidance for the meth-testing industry. We suggest buyers consider using accredited samplers, although it may take some time for samplers to become accredited following the new standards. Licensees could also advise vendors that permission be granted for prospective purchasers who want to undertake testing only when accredited samplers are going to be used.

Registered valuer
Typically, a registered valuation will be required by a mortgagee as a condition of finance. Consumers can find a registered valuer at www.property.org.nz.

If you have any questions about referring consumers to expert advice, please call our Enquiries team on 0800 367 7322 or email info@reaa.govt.nz.  

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