REBAA apologises for attack on sales agents

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The REIQ has accepted an unreserved apology from a buyer’s agents group, the Real Estate Buyer’s Agents Australia (REBAA) for its baseless, unfair and scurrilous broadside on Queensland’s sales agents.

The attack, published in an article on national portal as well as in a long list of mastheads in the News Corp network, alleged sales agents used sneaky tactics to manipulate buyers into unsuitable purchases because the selling agents were under pressure to make sales as the market softened.

The article was published from a press release issued by REBAA that was titled: “Buyer beware the desperate selling agent”. In the published online article, Mr Harvey made comments about buyers who were generally unaware of “tactics” that agents use:

REBAA president Rich Harvey said with a softening house price market in several Australian capital city markets, the property pendulum was beginning to swing in favour of buyers and some selling agents were feeling the pressure to make a sale and using shrewd tactics to seal the deal.

“Many buyers are unaware of the tactics that selling agents use to influence their buying decisions and may inadvertently fall victim to subtle pressure by either overpaying or making an unsuitable purchase,” he said. 

“Often it’s just the odd throw away comment that the selling agent drops in conversation to the buyer that ratchets up the buyer’s fear of missing out.”

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the article was an unfair attack that played on old stereotypes about real estate agents from decades ago.

“The comments in this article are very disappointing and do a lot of damage to the relationship between REBAA and the REIQ,” she said.

“The REIQ has worked very hard to improve the perceptions of all real estate practitioners – including sales agents and buyer’s agents – in the eyes of the public. These sorts of comments, from an industry group no less, serves to drag us all down in the eyes of the public. Nobody wins,” she said.

When contacted by the REIQ, a REBAA spokesperson said the original press release upon which the article was based had included modifying statements and had a “softer tone”. The press release included this quote which was not included in the News Ltd article:

“While most selling agents are legitimate operators acting in the best interests of the vendors, in a tightening market some agents feel pressure to make a sale and use shrewd tactics to convince the uneducated buyer about what is a good property,” Mr Harvey said. 

The REBAA press release went on to offer a list of 10 “pressure phrases buyers need to watch out for” and a list of 5 “pressure tactics buyers need to watch out for” including dummy bidding at auction and “embellished comparable sales”.

Ms Mercorella said if Mr Harvey had any knowledge of dummy bidding going on in Queensland he should hand that information directly to the Office of Fair Trading.

“We talk regularly with the OFT and there haven’t been any prosecutions for dummy bidding in Queensland for quite some time. To allege that it’s still happening is to bring the entire auction profession into disrepute. We take exception to that deeply offensive, unfounded allegation,” Ms Mercorella said.

REBAA president Rich Harvey issued this apology to the REIQ members:

Dear REIQ Members, 

In response to the concerns expressed by the REIQ caused by REBAA’s latest media release, I would like to apologise for the upset this has caused. 

It was not our intention to denigrate the industry and we recognise (as stated in our media release) that most selling agents are ethical professionals who act in the best interests of their vendors.

As a consumer advocacy group our primary aim is to educate buyers on the buying process which, on the rare occasion, includes pushy sales tactics that many buyers may not distinguish. 

We value our ongoing relationship with selling agents and recognise the positive working relationship many buyer’s agents and selling agents enjoy. 

In no way do we want to jeopardise that rapport and we look forward to continuing that connection. 

Yours sincerely, 

Rich Harvey



Ms Mercorella accepted the apology on behalf of the REIQ’s many thousands of members and thanked Mr Harvey for extending it in an effort to right a wrong.