Complaint did not trigger my retirement, realtor says

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A retiring Queenstown real estate salesman denies an official complaint by an unhappy client caused him to pull the pin.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand president Mike Elford last month confirmed REINZ was investigating
a complaint against Queenstowner Warren White and his firm, Southern Lakes Real Estate.

“We are expecting a final report on the investigation very soon,” Elford told Mountain Scene on August 11.

Elford wouldn’t comment further until a final decision was made by REINZ’s national council.

Then on August 31, Southern Lakes issued a press release announcing co-founder White was standing down in “a harmonious boardroom reorganisation”.

“Warren is leaving after almost six years with [Southern Lakes] to enjoy spending more quality time with his family and pursue other interests,” the release says.

REINZ compliance boss Vernon Tamatea yesterday confirmed the complaint against White and Southern Lakes was withdrawn four days earlier – on August 27.

No reason was given, Tamatea says.

White tells Mountain Scene this week that the complainant was an American who’d bought a managed apartment at The Rees off the plans and couldn’t accept it had dropped in value by the time he had to settle.

“He actually thought he could sue,” White, 54, says.

“He couldn’t afford to settle [on the apartment] and it had to be released, and then he found out he’d actually lost some money and he thought, who’s he going to recover it from?

“You do your best for people and sometimes your best isn’t enough.”

But is the now-withdrawn REINZ complaint in any way related to your decision to retire?

White: “It’s stupid, it’s absolutely stupid, this is small-town syndrome, and the complaint isn’t even there now.”

The prominent realtor says he left Southern Lakes because he’d promised to stay five years and it’s coming up six years.

A prolific seller of apartments, does White feel bad for clients who’ve seen their units dramatically plunge in value?

“You feel bad for yourself because I bought properties myself.

“You feel sorry for your clients but if they hold on, the market will come again.

What you just say to them is, if history’s a guide, that’s what’s happened in the past.”