Sectional title agents need specialist skills and knowledge

All property marketing, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, these days requires far more knowledge and skills than were evident in the average agent 10 to 15 years ago – and this, he says, applies to a greater degree to sectional title agents than to any other type of agent.

“Although this basic fact is often not recognized,” said Clarke, “sectional title marketing calls for the agent to be a specialist.”

The whole sectional title sector, said Clarke, is governed by and subject to complicated legislation.  The home ownership rules, levies and service payments as well as the usual long list of house rules need to be assimilated by the agent and passed on to the buyer and, added Clarke, to leave the buyer ignorant on such matters is a severe dereliction of duty.

Asked to give examples of the sort of matters that complicate sectional title ownership, Clarke mentioned the rules surrounding exclusive use, communal, storage, parking and garage areas.  In these it has to be defined who can make use of the areas and under what conditions.  Is it possible for the body corporate to change the rules affecting them?  Who is responsible for their upkeep?

Above all, said Clarke, it is the agent’s duty to assess the competency of the body corporate trustees, to go through their accounts (which by law they have to make available to any member of the public who is interested) and any reports they may have issued. This can require specialist skills and may make it necessary for the agent to get the help of professionals such as accountants and lawyers.

“It is,” said Clarke, “immoral to sell a sectional title unit to a buyer without prior warning if the scheme is in trouble, especially if the unit is likely to depreciate in value or if the buyer will be called on in the near future to pay a special levy.  The plain truth is, however, that many agents never even look at the accounts and Annual General Meeting reports of the bodies corporate they represent — and when they do look at them they often do not understand them.”

Sectional title agents, said Clarke, must always bear in mind that in selling a unit in a communal block they are selling a lifestyle which may well not suit everyone. To keep in touch with the morale of the members, he said, it is absolutely essential to talk to a cross-section of them from time-to-time. This should be done not only by the agent but by any buyer planning to move in there. Such conversations will almost always reveal if and where there are weaknesses in the scheme’s management.

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