Do Business with Ethical People

Recently, an Auckland real estate agent made the news trying to sue a former client. To make matters worse, the agent did not close the sale or introduce a buyer, yet wanted to claim a 32k commission on a property he didn’t sell in 2012.

Gary Murphy (real estate agent) signed a six month listing client with Mr Griffiths (vendor). After listing the property for three months, Mr Murphy had no luck finding a buyer so Mr Griffiths decided to terminate the agency listing contract in writing.

Lesson 1: Always puts things in writing.

Enter Don Ha.  Mr Griffiths then contacted Don Ha Real Estate who immediately found a buyer and closed the deal.

In 2013, Mr Griffiths received a letter from lawyer, John Waymouth, saying Gary Murphy was claiming the commission on the property because the property was sold during the six month agency listing period (Even after Mr Griffiths advised Gary Murphy he was terminating the listing).

It’s kinda funny. John Waymouth was one of guest lecturers at University of Auckland, teaching property law. He took time off in Australia in 2010 but then came back to set up a boutique real estate law firm.

After negotiation failed, Gary Murphy (the agent) took Mr Griffiths to court over 32K. The dispute finally got to court this year. What kind of agent would do that? Claim commission on a property he could not sell?

Lesson 2: Taking a person to court can be costly and time consuming. The dispute arose in 2013 and finally 3 years later, it finds it way to court. The amount of time spent on court is sometimes not worth it.

In the end, the 2 parties negotiated and settled on an amount. But in reality, both parties lost – they lost time and money, if nothing else. Both parties spent a lot of money on legal fees and the time and energy wasted on a lost cause. Gary Murphy should have been ethical enough to not claim commission on  a property he couldn’t sell, even if Mr Griffiths had wrongly terminated.

It’s no wonder real estate agents get bad press every now and then. The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand should have stepped in and stopped this sort of thing going to court.

By the way, Gary Murphy was the subject of a complaint regarding a separate issue last year.

The key lesson we learn is to do business with people who you can trust and who are ethical; these are people who look out for your best interests.

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