Former estate agent found guilty by watchdog

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

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Former Taranaki real estate agent Mark Charles Ferguson has been found guilty on several charges by the industry's independent watchdog.

The Real Estate Agents Authority's boss said yesterday the tribunal's decision demonstrated that the authority was doing what it was set up to do.

"This is another decision that shows that the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 is achieving its objective of protecting consumers," chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith said. "Real estate agents who fall short of the standards required by the act and the Code of Conduct are being held to account."

Two years ago Ferguson worked for Ray White Real Estate in Inglewood, but later moved to Palmerston North to work for JVL Prestige.

Before then several people, mostly from Taranaki, complained about his dealings with them.

Ferguson was adjudged bankrupt last year in an action taken by a Lepperton couple after he did not pay them money owed to them in one of the tribunal's decisions.

The total charges found proven by the authority include:

Misconduct for "badmouthing" a property that had previously been listed with him to potential purchasers.

Not providing a written appraisal.

Failing to honour a promise made to a vendor in return for her listing with him.

Removing pages from a LIM report before providing it to a potential purchaser.

Publishing a purported client testimonial on the internet and in marketing material without the client's knowledge or consent.

Inviting parties to sign documents authorising the early release of funds without advising them of the consequences of doing this.

A tribunal spokeswoman said yesterday a penalty for the seven charges was yet to be decided.

"However, the tribunal has indicated that cancelling his licence would have been an appropriate penalty if Ferguson had not already surrendered it."

There were no further charges pending against Ferguson, she said.

Last year the High Court at Palmerston North granted the bankruptcy application brought by Lepperton couple Vince and Roslynn Goodall against Ferguson over a $12,600 debt outstanding for two years. Ferguson was ordered by the Real Estate Agents Authority to pay the couple the money after he was found guilty of requesting the early release of deposits in relation to property deals in October 2010.

After publicity surrounding the unpaid debt, Ferguson's employment at JVL ended.

Ferguson did not appear at the tribunal's hearing and the Taranaki Daily News could not contact him for comment yesterday.

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