A wrangle over wardrobes at a Remuera home that sold for $3.65 million has led a conduct tribunal to order top Auckland real estate agents to pay $10,000 to replace them.
Husband and wife team Gary and Vicki Wallace from Bayleys Remuera were enlisted to sell a Ventnor Rd property belonging to Michael and Susan Baker in 2012.
The Bakers complained to the Real Estate Agents Authority that three designer wardrobes sold with the house should not have been because they were not part of the fixtures.
In April 2013, the authority's complaints assessment committee sided with the Bakers and found the Wallaces guilty of unsatisfactory conduct. The Wallaces, who work for Bayleys, appealed, but the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal upheld the decision in a finding made public this week.
The case prompted tribunal chairman Judge Paul Barber to warn all real estate agents to check what they are briefed to sell.
" ... It is fundamental that [agents] carefully establish whether or not the contents of a property are to pass with the sale and to what extent."
In his evidence before the tribunal, Mr Baker, who describes himself as a medical specialist and company director, said the couple paid the Wallaces "just under $100,000" for their help selling the house.
"We were entitled to expect greater professionalism and attention to detail than what we received."
Mr Wallace told the tribunal he believed the BoConcept wardrobes to be part of the sale. Ordinarily they were classed as fixtures and the Bakers never told him the wardrobes would not come with the house.
Judge Barber said the wardrobes were freestanding and chattels of the property.
Although all the witnesses seemed honest and competent, the tribunal found the complainants' evidence more compelling, he said.
The Wallaces should have taken greater care in ascertaining whether they were to be included in the sale as part of the price.
"This seems a case of neither of a husband and wife team of highly skilled and experienced real estate agents examining the wardrobes carefully enough to realise that they were free-standing on feet," the judge said.
The complaints committee had upheld the Bakers' claim that they should be reimbursed for the purchase and installation of replacement wardrobes, which they valued at $42,336. In preparing their appeal, the Wallaces obtained an estimated value for the wardrobes of about $2500.
Judge Barber found the wardrobes, which were bought second-hand by the Bakers, could be fairly assessed to have a market value of about $10,000.
The tribunal made a replacement order of that amount and Judge Barber commended the agents for having their $100,000 commission reduced by $10,000 as reimbursement. A $500 fine imposed on each of the Wallaces stands.
Mr Wallace did not want to comment yesterday and referred to a Bayleys statement.
The statement said the company had reviewed procedures as a result of the decision.
"As the tribunal decision says, this was a simple mix-up in communications in compiling the list of chattels and fixtures. We are sorry for this.
"Bayleys has reviewed the procedures for defining the difference between chattels and fixtures, to ensure such confusion is not repeated again."