Authority decision puts agents in clear


A complaint about one Queens­town real estate agent selling a house to another agent from the same firm has been dismissed. 

The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) has tossed out Queens­towner Pete Deuart’s complaint about last month’s sale of a three-bedroom Kiely Lane property off Gorge Road. 

The complaint alleged Ray White Queenstown agent Gavin Castles sidelined Deuart’s verbal offer of $390,000 – because the vendor had already accepted Ray White Frankton branch owner Wayne Cafe’s prior offer of $385,000. 

Castles, who’d advised the vendor to bump up Cafe’s initial offer by $20,000, also had a back-up offer at the same price. 

Regardless of how much Deuart offered, he was third in line for the property. 

Castles and Cafe told Mountain Scene a fortnight ago they were confident they’d followed strict rules for related-party transactions. 

In a letter to Deuart dismissing his complaint, the REAA says: “Castles’ conduct does not raise any disciplinary issues that would amount to either unsatisfactory conduct or misconduct under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.” 

The REAA says it’s sighted Cafe’s offer and the back-up offer, both of which had been accepted by the vendor before Deuart made his verbal offer. 

“In the circumstances, the licensee [Castles] believed a sales was imminent and did not encourage you to make an offer,” the REAA tells Deuart. 

“We do not believe a breach of the Act has occurred.” 

The REAA adds: “In relation to your second complaint that you believe the licensee had a conflict of interest, licensees are entitled to purchase real estate which is marketed through their own agency, provided they meet specific 
obligations under the Act.” 

Those obligations – involving related-party disclosures to vendors, together with independent valuations – were met, the REAA tells Deuart. 

Both agents welcome the decision. 

Castles says: “This unnecessary situation has caused myself and my family a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights. I’m very happy it’s at an end and I can move on in the positive and professional manner I’ve built my career on.” 

Cafe says the REAA and not the media should deal with complaints against agents. 

“REAA investigations are based on facts and not emotional sentiment and the complaint has been dismissed as we expected,” he says. 

“We agents must obey the law at all times, especially in smaller communities where our livelihoods depend on our reputations,” Cafe adds. 

Deuart says: “The REAA has made its findings and that’s that – however, I’m still disappointed I didn’t get that particular house,” he says.