29 Mar 2011

Lawyers set to compete with real-estate agents

7:15 pm on 29 March 2011

In a move that could shake up the real-estate industry, a group of lawyers in Auckland has established a company to compete with agents.

Changes to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act in 2008 allowed lawyers to sell houses.

The director of the new company, ACRES, Mike Tolhurst, says real-estate agents have had a monopoly for too long.

He says ACRES can save sellers thousands of dollars by charging them a flat fee instead of a commission based on the sale price.

The chief executive of the Real Estate Institute, Helen O'Sullivan, says selling houses is more about marketing than legal skills and she believes lawyers will find it a challenge to do as good a job as agents.

But Mr Tolhurst says he is confident lawyers won't go bust like low-cost vendors in the past, because selling homes is just one part of their business and they do not have big overheads.