As with any industry, the real estate category is populated by expert professionals who comply with the letter of the law. Unfortunately, it also features ne’er-do-wells who are focused solely on income, customer service and ethics be dashes. Such behavior has created a negative reputation for an industry which – overall – is focused on service and supporting people to build wealth and live life on their own terms. At Think Property&Co, our approach is built on the pillars of integrity, credibility and professionalism – with our primary goal being to make things #BetterForEveryone. In this blog, we examine agent ethics and the appropriateness of kick-backs.
ON AGENT ETHICS
Much to our chagrin, the real estate industry isn’t held in high esteem by the community. This is a rod that a handful of unethical agents have made for the wider category’s back – with most real estate professionals focused on delivering great service to their clients. Agents must be appropriately licensed, legislation-compliant and transparent in their dealings. Their interests must be aligned with those of their client. It goes without saying that the any businesses or trades an agent recommends to their clients should also be above-board. Whether that’s a conveyancer, lawyer, broker, sparky, gardener or stylist – an agent should be confident in their referrals to insured and trustworthy ancillary services. Sometimes, the referrals that agents make result in a payment or ‘kick-back’ benefit. We consider that kick-backs should be made apparent to clients who are accepting referrals from agents.
Let’s start by defining the term ‘kick-back’.
A kick-back refers to an illegal fee, rebate or commission added by a supplier on behalf of the service provider, often without consent or approval. It is mandatory that agencies disclose referral fees in order to ensure compliance with Australian laws, safeguarding a transparent, honest exchange with clients.
There is often a correlation between agents who behave in unethical ways and those who demand kick-backs from service providers. An example of this behaviour is an agent adding commission on top of a tradesperson’s account and invoicing it to landlords, without informing the tradesperson or their client. It is critical that property managers elect to work with service providers because of the quality of their offering and not because of kick-backs. If kick-backs are offered to agents by service providers, it’s essential that landlords are made aware of the arrangement prior to engagement. The bottom line is: estate agents should earn their revenue solely by delivering exceptional service for fair payment, explicitly avoiding secret kick-backs or similar dealings. Our industry experience shows us that this is not the case, with many agencies accepting or drawing-down kick-backs from their clients.
Working with a premium property management business means both experience and an ethical approach to providing exceptional holistic service – including trade recommendations – without unexpected kick-backs. At Think Property & Co, we value the relationships we build with our clients. This relationship isn’t built on small kick-backs or deal-cutting – nor does it conclude the moment we hand over the keys to tenants. In fact, a significant number of our TP&Co clients go on to become friends, who refer mates and family to our services.
Our friendly, professional team are only a phone call away. Contact us today!