Trio slapped with fines

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Thousands of dollars of fines have been slapped on three Queenstown realtors over a single bungled sale.

As Mountain Scene reported in March, a committee of the real estate watchdog REAA pinged Grant Coburn, Will Clews and Gail Hudson, all of BayleysLocations, for unsatisfactory conduct.

The finding relates to the collapsed sale last year of a multi-million-dollar property in Slope Hill Road.

Coburn was found to have breached the agency’s own rules for multi-offers and didn’t promptly disclose a soil contamination report to potential buyer Michael Thomas.

Hudson herself put forward a new offer after the multi-offer process was completed.

Hudson – a Real Estate Institute of New Zealand board member – said in March an appeal was being considered.

But that came to naught and a REAA complaints assessment committee has now ordered punishment.

Coburn has been fined $4000 and censured, while Clews and Hudson were fined $2500 each.

The maximum fine is $10,000.

The decision, issued on May 15, says it’s the first black mark for Coburn’s 24-year career.

He told the committee he has reviewed the company’s policies and “has learnt some valuable lessons from this entire experience and does not intend being in this situation again”.

Hudson blasted the REAA for finding her guilty, filing a “detailed analysis” of why she thought it was wrong.

The committee shrugged that off, saying it wasn’t a chance to relitigate the finding and she could have appealed.

Hudson made “very limited submissions” about punishment, the decision says, which boiled down to an argument that adverse publicity, including a be sufficient.

The committee wasn’t persuaded – and called the $2500 fine a “clear denunciation of her conduct”.

“To allow the media publicity in itself to be the penalty would be to put the disciplinary process in the hands of the complainant and the media.”

Hudson says by phone: “I have no comment.”

REINZ chairwoman Dame Roseanne Meo tells institute takes rulings by the REAA seriously, but she’s backing Hudson, a “long-standing and valued member of the REINZ board”.

“She informed the board immediately on becoming aware of the complaint against her and subsequent REAA investigation.

“The finding against her was for ‘unsatisfactory conduct’ and did not meet the threshold of misconduct.”

Meo says Hudson’s accepted the ruling and fine “rather than go through a prolonged appeal process”.

She’s also assured the board she “fully understands” the ramification of the committee’s decision.

“Given Gail’s unblemished record over her 16 years in real estate and the nature and circumstances of the complaint, Gail has asked to complete her elected term on the board of REINZ, and this offer has been accepted,” Meo says.

Clews – who apologised to potential buyer Thomas – unintentionally failed to forward the soil report and had limited time to comply with the company’s multi-offer policy, the decision says.

Thomas says of the decision: “It’s taken a year and I’m glad it’s finally over.”

The fines have to be paid by June 14 – the day after appeals on the punishment close.

david@scene.co.nz