By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE hiring of part-time realtors “should not be the norm”, the Bahamas Real Estate Association’s newly elected president said yesterday, suggesting the court ruling that paved the way for this practice had been misinterpreted.
Carla Sweeting, an ERA Dupuch real estate agent, said the decision to allow part-time realtors into the industry, which was taken by her predecessor, Franon Wilson, was one she did not personally agree with.
“I think the Chief Justice’s opinion was taken out of context,” she explained. “While I am not here to say that no one can make a living, I just don’t feel that it needed to go to the extent of being publicised.
“Buying a piece of real estate is the most important and expensive thing you will ever do. If you are using someone who is working a 9am-5pm for Joe Blow at ABC company, he is not putting in the dedication and care for your listing.
“He may bring in unqualified buyers, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong if you’re not using a full-time agent. They’re also not getting the proper training and guidance or experience. I think that is something we need to look at.”
Since its inception 50 years ago, BREA has held the policy that an individual in Nassau has to be employed full-time in the real estate industry to obtain a salesman or broker’s license. The Association has been involved in litigation over this issue since 2006.
Last July, Mr Wilson informed the 600-member body that persons seeking a real estate broker’s license no longer had to be employed in the business full-time, noting that the Supreme Court had found that whether an individual is full-time or part-time should not be a consideration when granting a license.
Referring to the decision of then-Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall, Ms Sweeting said: “The Chief Justice’s opinion was right, I think the interpretation was wrong. I think we should have appealed the ruling.
“I personally feel that the interpretation of the Chief Justice’s opinion could have gone a different way. I’m not knocking part-time realtors; it should not be the norm. I feel that the public is going to ultimately suffer from that.”
Ms Sweeting also said that BREA would be seeking the help of the Bahamas Bar Association on the issue of foreign realtors listing and selling Bahamian property.
“We have a partnership arrangement with the Florida chapter of the National Association of Realtors. The Florida chapter had worked very well with us in years gone by in educating their brokers that you can’t come to the Bahamas, list properties and sell. You can cooperate with brokers in The Bahamas,” said Ms Sweeting.
“You see a lot of that happening, particularly in some of the Family Islands like Abaco and Bimini. Due to the fact that they have a lot of second home owners, persons go back home and find a realtor and try and sell the property.
“Our Act is very clear that only a Bahamian can engage in the practice of selling real estate in the country, and we are very happy to pay referrals, but never should they be allowed to sell and get full commission.”