16 Feb 2011

Agents under scrutiny over architect claims

10:18 pm on 16 February 2011

Real estate agents are facing investigation by their regulatory body after complaints they have falsely described homes as architecturally designed.

The New Zealand Registered Architects Board has laid 23 complaints with the Real Estate Agents Authority against agents they say make misleading claims.

Board chief executive Paul Jackman says the cases were unearthed by disgruntled architects and Trade Me searches.

Mr Jackman says the misleading description benefit the vendor and the real estate agent - at the expense of the buyer.

He says the Trade Me searches only scratch the surface of a widespread problem.

Mr Jackman says many homes have in fact been designed by architectural designers or draughtsmen, who have less expertise than a registered architect.

However the Real Estate Institute says confusion, rather than deliberate deception, is at the centre of the problems.

The institute is due to meet the Institute of Architects in March and says it will offer advice and training to real estate agents on the issue.

Chief executive Helen O'Sullivan says many people do not understand the distinction between an architectural designer and an architect.

The Real Estate Agents' Authority will decide on Friday whether to investigate the complaints.