As a licensee, you are obliged under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, to display certain information in your office, signage and advertising material.
What to display
This information must include:
the agent’s name
the fact that the agent is licensed under the Act
the name the agent’s business is conducted under – if different to the agent’s name.
The Act does not specify what wording should be used but examples include:
agent as an individual - Jo Smith, licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008
agent as a company - ABC Realty Ltd, licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.
A clarification on our name:
- The ‘Real Estate Authority’ or ‘REA’ is our operating name and how we should be referred to.
- The ‘Real Estate Agents Authority’ or ‘REAA’ is our legal name. It is only used for contracts we enter into and in the context of disciplinary decisions from Complaint Assessment Committees and our appearance before the Tribunal or other higher courts.
- ‘REAA’ or ‘REAA 2008’ needs to be used by licensees to refer to the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 on signage, websites, business cards, and any other advertising material.
Where to display it
This information must be displayed prominently:
- at all of the agent’s business premises - such as offices or shops
- on all of the agent’s business websites
- on all notices, advertisements and other material published by or on behalf of the agent in the course of the business
- on all letters, accounts, contractual documents, agreements and any other documents sent, handed out, entered into, or published by the agent in the course of the business.
Branch managers and salespersons
If you are a branch manager or salesperson, you must also display the agent’s information in all notices, advertisements and other material they publish or produce in their role as a licensee.
You cannot advertise yourself as an agent if you do not hold an agent class of licence.
An unsubstantiated representation is a claim made about the sale of property that does not have any reasonable basis. It applies to all types of representations including statements used in marketing and websites or verbal statements made by a licensee.
If a claim is made, you must have appropriate evidence to justify it.
Under the Fair Trading Act, it is an
offence (under Section 12A(external link)) to use unsubstantiated representations, including representations made about the sale of a property. Licensees can be held to account under the Fair Trading Act, the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 and the Code of Conduct.
Are there any exceptions?
You are allowed to make claims that are regarded as clearly an exaggeration and are so obvious that no-one is likely to reasonably believe them.
An example might be ’This is the best property ever!’ It’s risky to rely on ‘puffery’ except where it is obvious that it’s not meant to be taken as fact. You may want to consider if all prospective buyers will understand the difference between ‘puffery’ and fact.
The law is designed to catch serious representations which a reasonable person would expect to be substantiated. An example could be advertising a property as ‘Home and Income' when there is a restrictive covenant preventing this.
What if a representation is unsubstantiated, but true?
You need to make sufficient enquiries to check whether a statement or representation was true or not.
The law requires you to make sure you have reasonable grounds at the time of making any statement about a property or business you are marketing, before making those statements.
Breaches of the Fair Trading Act penalties for licensees
Breaching the Fair Trading Act can lead to fines of up to $200,000 for licensees and $600,000 for agencies. The courts can also grant an injunction and can order corrective advertising.
What this means for you
You need to be vigilant and take steps to ensure that statements you and your agency make (whether verbally to a prospective purchaser or in advertising) are accurate, genuine and can be substantiated.