New Zealand’s Whale Oil site has targeted the REAA yet again today with yet more evidence that New Zealand’s Real Estate Agents Authority has been engaging in the preferential treatment of certain agents, in this case the agent is petrol head Arron Drever. This dodgy agent has of course come to the attention of LF is the past, being connected to real estate fraudster extraordinaire Martin Honey of Ray White New Zealand.
Stephen Cook opined;
REAL ESTATE AGENT DEPOSITS CLIENTS’ MONEY IN OWN PERSONAL ACCOUNT
by Stephen Cook on October 9, 2015 at 8:00am
AN AUCKLAND real estate agent charged with misconduct after depositing more than $100,000 of client funds into his own account has escaped with just a fine in the latest case to test the credibility of the Government watchdog responsible for policing the billion-dollar plus a year industry.
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, led by octogenarian former district court judge Paul Barber, was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 to supposedly crack down on rogue real estate agents.
Although the tribunal has wide-ranging disciplinary powers at its disposal, critics say under Barber it’s become morally bankrupt and hopelessly incompetent.
The latest case to raise eyebrows involves Auckland agent Aaron Drever, who pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct under the Act after obtaining more than $100,000 from vendor clients, which he then banked into his own account.
It’s another black mark against Drever, who has been before the Real Estate Agents Authority on three separate occasions in the past few years, and a further blow for an industry employing more than 9000 agents nationwide and another 1500 people in support roles.
Details of the Drever case, which dates back to 2013, have only recently emerged but centre around a dispute that arose between the agent and the agency he worked for.
Under Drever’s arrangement with his employer, Hedgman Real Estate, advertising expenses were supposed to be deducted from Drever’s monthly commissions in the first instance and then credited back to him once they’d been received by the agency from the vendors.
Instead, Drever arranged for the advertising money to be paid to him directly. He then banked that money into his personal account – and didn’t tell his bosses.
However, lawyers for Hedgman Real Estate conceded while the offending was “serious” there was no evidence to suggest Drever had acted dishonestly.
Drever said he had been holding advertising money in his own account pending the resolution of a dispute about monies he claimed he was owed.
He told the tribunal he took action which he considered necessary to preserve his position, but admitted it was an error.
Despite the guilty plea, claims the offending amounted to “serious negligence” and the fact it was Drever’s fourth time up on charges in recent years, the tribunal only punished the 32-year-old agent with a fine of $5000 with a further $2000 in costs.
Drever has now found a new home with Martin Honey and Pure Realty in Kelston – a team plagued by questions relating to their professional conduct.
Last week it was forced to suspend Kelston agent Ronald Hachache while Ray White investigated his links to a Henderson property, which sold four times in just three months.
But in the meantime, Honey and Pure Realty are raving about Drever.
On the Pure Realty website, they have this to say about him: ”Real Estate Pedigree such as this is rare. A trail of multi-million dollar sales and deeply satisfied clients are testament to the understanding of Aaron Drever.
“Aaron’s true talent lies in negotiation. His ability to tightly manage a marketing campaign and to predict buyer’s intentions is a prelude to a skilfully executed negotiation process where premium prices are achieved.”
Journalist Stephen Cook has noted that it’s not the first occasion Drever has been complained of, but he provides little detail of this prior behaviour.
Back in 2011 the New Zealand Herald ran a piece exposing Drever, after one of his clients had come forward with taped evidence of his alleged sculduggery, aka “marketeing” prowess. This prior case is interesting for two extremely good reasons. The first is that the first complaint also involved a dispute over commissions and payments.
That then takes us to the second matter of interest, a matter of inconsistency. It seems that the REAA has a differing approach in the way it applies the law, treating some agents very differently to others. This inconsistency is sometimes extreme, but more about that shortly. New Zealand Herald investigative journo David Fisher wrote the piece below for the Herald on Sunday back in 2011;
Owners catch agent on tape after wrangle
By David Fisher5:30 AM Sunday May 1, 2011
A real estate agent was caught out on tape by a couple upset over his “unprofessional behaviour” when selling their home.
They have now confronted Remax with the recorded words of its agent Aaron Drever – leading to a high-level meeting next week.
The exact contents of the tape remain unknown but neighbours and estate agents working in the area have been told it contains a contradiction over what the real estate commission would be.
The falling-out between home owner and real estate agent began during the sales process, according to neighbours.
But it went to a new level after Drever sent leaflets around the Titirangi street. His leaflet carried the boast: “Vendor Ecstatic … Purchaser delighted”.
Neighbours said the homeowners were upset at the boast and sent another pamphlet around the neighbourhood. They used a copy of the original – with their own message written across the top.
“Warning!! To our previous neighbours: We are not ecstatic about the whole dealings we’ve had with Aaron. This flyer is yet another example of the … unprofessional behaviour we have had to tolerate.”
However, new homeowner Tracy Goodwin spoke highly of Drever – she said she was so impressed she hoped to go and work for him.
Goodwin said she believed the property had been listed too high and there had been difficulties getting a realistic price for the house. It was listed for more than $550,000 but eventually sold for $520,000.
Agents working in the area said the couple decided to record Drever after being upset over earlier conversations with him. “At open homes now, any vendor can have a tape or camera.
“You’ve got to be careful what you’re saying.”
Drever worked for three West Auckland estate agencies before starting with Remax. He refused to comment, as did his manager.
Indeed, Aaron Drever was right on the money when he told Fisher,“You’ve got to be careful what you’re saying.”. It’s also strange that the Herald did not seem to find “tracy’s” need to be employed and the potential for a job from Drever as anything to be particularly concerned about.
In both of these instances it would appear that Drever has committed offences under the Act and code and yet he has not been handed what would seem to us to be an appropriate penalty – Why?
The evidence of inconsistency in the REAA’s approach is to be found in yet another unrelated prosecution, a prosecution that had also relied on the allegation that a real estate agent had kept a customers payment. This time however there where accusations from both sides, the prosecution that the cheque had been stolen by the agent because of a dispute over commission, the agent on the other hand alleging that he had held on to the cheque only because he knew that the company and its principle were in financial difficulty and were about to bank and clear funds that they were not entitled to and against the customers wishes.
The complainants in that case were Whanganui Estate Agent and agency principle Dale vanderhoof and his defacto partner Jean Palmer-Holmes a manager. The agent who had been accused was one William Hume, aka Billy Hume.
In the case of Billy Hume however Hume had NOT banked the disputed cheque, he had simply held onto it at the request of the customer, a fact that the customer in question testified too before the REAA tribunal.
There were many another peculiarities in the way the READT dealt with the vanderhoof v Hume case, not the least of which was the fact that the complainant, Dale vanderhoof, had a daughter that was employed by the REAA as the agencies media liaison manager, a spin doctor with connections to NZME journo’s, in particular the Herald on Sunday. In fact Ngaire vanderhoof was the person responsible for ensuring that Hume was tarred and feathered by the media. APNZ (now NZME), as we have come to expect, again led the charge. Of further concern is the fact that the READT seemed to think that it had the authority to grant name suppression for vanderhoof, Palmer-Holmes and the pairs now liquidated trading entity Dgv Realty Limited.
The fact was that the agent Billy Hume did have the customer on side, corroborating his version of events, that the customer had in fact NOT trusted vanderhoof or Palmer-Holmes and had requested that Hume hold on to their cheque until he was sure it was safe to hand it over. Palmer Jone’s and vanderhoof then decided to falsely allege that Hume had stolen the cheque and threatened them both with violence.
Another reality that remained undisclosed by the prosecution in this case was the fact that Dgv Realty Limited was very likely trading whilst insolvent during 2011 -2013, a fact that vanderhoof and Palmer-Holmes would obviously have needed to conceal, hence the additional false allegations of “threatened Violence” that the pair subsequently made against Hume.
In fact, when it comes to the REAA and dodgy real estate operators the like’s of Martin Honey and Dale vanderhoof there seems to be a distinct pattern when it comes to the making of false allegations such as “threatened violence”.
Dgv Realty Limited was eventually placed in liquidation on 28th November 2012, only a few short months after the false allegations had been made against Billy Hume, the liquidators final report being filed on the 3rd May 2013.
LF has reported on this particular case, including extensive detail of the various nefarious relationships, back in March 2014.
For LF readers that are interested in the REAA’s extraordinary skulduggery in that case we have included hyperlinks to two of those reports below;
The upshot is that a thoroughly compromised REAA, an organisation that had within its own ranks undeclared familial and business links to Dale vanderhoof and Jean Palmer-Holmes, links that comprised a serious undeclared conflict of interest, ruled that Billy Hume, by holding on to the cheque, had dealt with the Cheque improperly, which constituted disgraceful conduct.
LF believes that it was the REAA who had engaged in disgraceful conduct, its Tribunal members and the local journalists undoubtedly colluded with the two vanderhoof’s, Dale and his daughter Ngaire (an REAA employee), and Dale’s defacto partner Jean Palmer-Holmes in a joint effort to publicly smear Billy Hume’s reputation so as to damage his credibility. That the REAA, the Tribunal and REAA officers involved also colluded with Crown Lawyers and vanderhoof to ensure that Billy Hume was hung out to dry.
Whilst it is obvious to the trained eye that what has happened to Hume was a contrived and deliberate setup, serious criminal offending, corruption on the part of the conspirators, nothing to date has been done to right the injustice.
Hume himself appealed the “threatening to injure” convictions he sustained when both Dale vanderhoof and Jean Palmer-Holmes committed perjury during the District Court trial but under-resourced and forced to fight on as a lay litigant unfortunately failed.
Hume had however cottoned on to the skullduggery that unfolded during the REAA hearing before octogenarian retired District Court Judge Barber and the other colluding members of and decided to halt proceedings by walking out. An event that was quickly fed to the mainstream media by none other than Dale vanderhoof’s daughter, the REAA’s spin doctor Ngaire vanderhoof; the New Zealand Herald and its provincial subsidiary, the Whanganui Chronicle, immediately spining Hume’s protest;
Real estate agent walks out of hearingBy Merania Karauria –Wanganui Chronicle7:17 PM Tuesday Jul 16, 2013
A man facing three charges of misconduct under the Real Estate Agents Act walked out of a disciplinary hearing in Wanganui yesterday.
During the final submission by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal’s lawyer late yesterday, William Hume got up from his seat, exchanged a few words, and left.
Hume told Judge Barber: “I am getting angry … I’ve had enough of this stuff … I can’t listen to it, it’s really starting to agitate me.”
Hume was facing three charges of misconduct brought by the Complaints Assessment Committee under the Real Estate Agents Act. They were that his conduct was disgraceful; that his conduct constituted seriously incompetent or seriously negligent real estate agency work, and/or that he wilfully or recklessly engaged in conduct likely to bring the industry into disrepute, and that a conviction reflected adversely on his fitness to be a licensee.
Last year, Hume was convicted and fined $750 on a threatening to injure charge.
The hearing, before Judge Paul Barber and Garry Denley and Nola Dangen of the Real Estate Institute, was to continue today, but Mr Hume’s exit brought the hearing to a close.
Judge Barber directed Real Estate Agents Authority lawyer Luke Clancy’s submission to be typed and sent to Hume.
Hume was also to be told via email that there would be no hearing today, and that he had two weeks to respond.
The tribunal’s decision would follow once Hume responded.
Mr Clancy told the hearing that “even after being arrested by the police, prosecuted in the District Court, and failing to have his conviction quashed in the High Court”, Hume had no insight into the seriousness of his behaviour.
Hume interjected to say he did not accept it, “because I know I had not done it”.
Mr Clancy continued that the charges were disgraceful, and that Hume had a propensity to act aggressively when things did not go his way.
Hume, who defended himself, is charged that on or about December 16, 2008 he threatened the branch manager, Anne Williams, of CD Realty. He telephoned her and said: “You’ve fucked with me once too many. I am going to destroy you, I’m going to take you out.”
Real estate agent Angela Ellis witnessed the call and afterwards told him to “calm down, come and have a cup of tea”, then suggested he call her back and apologise. He did.
Yesterday, Ms Williams told the hearing she was no longer the branch manager, and that she had developed a heart condition brought on by stress around his conduct.
On or about December 22, 2009, Hume told Steven Ellis of Rivercity Realty: “I feel like coming over and smashing you,” and, “I don’t make threats I’m not prepared to carry out.”
The hearing was told that on February 28, 2011, Hume took property from DGV Realty. On May 17, he phoned Dale Vanderhoof of DGV Realty and said: “I’m going to escalate it you mother****er – I’m going to kill you.”
Hume contests that Mr Vanderhoof owes him $30,000 from when he worked for his company.
Hume challenged all that was before him, saying he had “been honest as I can, calm as I can”.
Tim Hocquard, Ray White Realty principal, said Hume had worked for him for two-and-a-half years and had “behaved in a manner that would make real estate proud”.
In the Hume case team LF believes that there is now likely enough evidence to prosecute Palmer-Holmes and both vanderhoof’s, Dale and his daughter Ngaire, with conspiracy to pervert justice. In the case of Dale and Jean, partners in crime, also perjury – on the occasions of the false criminal complaint, subsequent trial and wrongful conviction of Billy Hume and the READT hearings. There is also the matter of an attempted fraud, the obviously intended theft and conversion of the all important customer cheque by the director of an insolvent company.
LF would like to hear from agents, the front-line of New Zealand’s real estate industry, who feel that they have been unfairly dealt with by the REAA. We would also like to hear from anyone who is possession of any information whatsoever that they feel might assist team LF’s investigation into the vanderhoof’s, Jean Palmer-Holmes, their company Dgv Realty Limited and or any associate who may have participated in this injustice. Whistle-blowers can contact LF here.