The Real Estate Agent Can be Your Best Protection

When the term “real estate agent” is mentioned, a whole range of stereotyped opinions rush into the average buyers head. In a few cases the warnings these images flag are
15 Sep 2018 11:39
The Real Estate Agent Can be Your Best Protection
Suva City Council (SCC) issued a stop order for the construction of the WG Friendship Plaza. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

When the term “real estate agent” is mentioned, a whole range of stereotyped opinions rush into the average buyers head.

In a few cases the warnings these images flag are worth considering.

It is always sensible to be careful and seek information when you first start dealing with a new agent, but in doing this keep an open mind.

Real estate agents and their salespeople are bound by the Real Estate Agents Act 2006 and a soon to be released code of ethics.

The Real Estate Licensing Board (RealB) is the overall controller of the activities of all real estate agents and their salespeople in Fiji.

It is a requirement that the REALB establishes the worthiness of applicants before approving and issuing licences.

Real Estate salespeople have an annual renewal requirement while agents can chose an annual or five year term.

The REALB ensures that the salespeople and agents have conducted themselves properly and operated within the terms of the Act before renewing licences.

This gives an element of protection to the public, both vendors or landlords, and purchasers or tenants.

Most agents and salespeople are very careful to stick to all the rules to ensure they can continue to work in the industry.

Real estate agents are usually appointed by the seller of the property (or in the case of renting, by the property owner).

However, in most cases the agent is paid by the seller or landlord.

There are some occasions when an agent is appointed by the buyer or tenant.


Whilst agents are responsible to those who engage them, and ultimately work in their best interests, the agent also has strict compliance rules when dealing with the buyer or potential tenant.

These rules are there to ensure that the protection is there for people on the other side of the deal.

Striking case

A striking example came to light a couple of weeks ago, when Bayleys Real Estate withdrew from potentially rewarding exclusive agency contract for a high rise development in Suva.

In that case, the vendor did not want to place the deposit in a stakeholder’s trust account, leaving the buyer open to possibly losing their deposit funds.

The agent and salespeople are the connection between the two parties in any property deal and unless both parties are satisfied with the deal being offered the sale will not proceed, with potentially a significant loss to both parties.

An experienced agent can generally find the middle ground, where the best deal for both parties can be worked out and each is satisfied.

Agents and salespeople are experienced in negotiating compromises and finding ways to provide elements in the transaction for both parties so that the discussions can reach a successful conclusion.

Indispensable service

For any property seller, the services of a real estate agent are almost indispensible because of the services they offer are generally the fastest way to identify committed buyers and bring them to the table.

Agents also know all the issues required so that the buyer can complete the deal easily.

They will identify all the paperwork that will be needed and can assist in collection early so that everything is ready when the sale is to be completed.

They will, if they can, present several buyers to the seller and will handle the sometimes difficult negotiations to ensure that the seller gets the best possible price for the property.

Another important service is that the Agent is skilled in spotting the looker, the person who is just interested in looking at properties within a certain price range but is never going to commit to purchase, and this is a common issue in the real estate market.

If a seller gets caught up in this situation a lot of time can be wasted in negotiations that are never going to go anywhere, and time is detracted from more potentially successful enquiries.

Agents often have a large database of buyers and information on what they are looking for and can occasionally find a perfect match for the property without even going to market through advertising.

Real estate agents do charge a fee, generally based on the price they achieve and most agents charge fees that are in the same range.

The fees are negotiable and in any transaction with a real estate agent, the seller should know right up front what costs they will face on sale.

The agent can be very helpful here and will even detail the fees payable to government and deal with other issues.

On selling it will be necessary to appoint a solicitor who will ensure that all obligations, by either the buyer or seller that involve the property are cleared before transfer is completed.

If you have no relationship with a solicitor the agent can often recommend someone who is both reliable and economical.

Planning with agent

In dealing through an agent you should be clear and open so that they have all the information, and do so up front so they do not have to backtrack halfway through the deal.

The agent needs to know the bottom acceptable price, and exclusions from the sale and anything that may become an issue at settlement.

A good agent will thoroughly question the details before starting.

As for the buyer, be very specific in your needs, the highest price your budget allows, any special requirements, like a two car garage.

If you have pets tell the agent up front.

The more the agent knows about your side the better you can be matched to properties that will suit you.

And lastly, trust your agent, get to know them, ask advice on what to look for if you are buying and what to spruce up if you are selling, make yourself available at a time to suit them as far as possible and be on time for inspections as the Agent probably has following meetings.

Regulating the industry

Philip Toogood, of Bayleys, one of the largest real estate agent groups in Fiji, says “since regulation of the industry there has been a significant lift in the way real estate agents run their businesses and guide and direct their salespeople.”

He adds that a priority of the REALB is to introduce ongoing training for existing and new real estate agents and salespeople.

Mr Toogood said combined with the new code of ethics, this would provide the market with greater confidence in engaging with us as an industry group.”

And a word of advice, if you are dealing with a real estate agent or salesperson who is new to you, insist on sighting the current licence identification card each is required to carry.


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