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Role of a real estate agent

What is a real estate agent? – How do they differ from a real estate salesperson?

Whilst on the face of it this may seem a rather simplistic question it actually belies a deeper understanding of the structures of the real estate industry. It is important to bring clarity to this matter especially as over the past year the industry has undergone significant change with the long-overdue repeal of the 1976 Real Estate Agents Act, which is now replaced by the 2008 Real Estate Agents Act. This new Act which covers all professionals working in the industry with the single exception of residential property managers (handling renatl properties).

The Act establishes the legal processes and principles by which all people must operate in the industry. All professionals operating in the industry who are paid by means of commission or fees for the servcies of real estate must be licensed by the new Real Estate Agents Authority. A real estate agent is a term that is widely used within the public arena in the context of real estate, however an agent is a designated level of license holder in NZ under the new act. There are less than 2,000 licensed agents in NZ whereas there are over 9,000 salespeople, these individuals are the majority of the people that you will meet in the process of buying and selling real estate. Whilst they may be refered to as Agents, they are more likely to be real estate salespeople. Under the new Act there are three classes of licence:

Agent - this allows the licensee to carry out real estate agency work on his or her own account (whether in partnership or otherwise)

Branch manager - this allows the licensee to carry out real estate agency work for or on behalf of an agent

Salesperson - this allows the licensee to carry out real estate agency work for or on behalf of an agent.  A salesperson must be supervised by an agent or a branch manager when carrying out any real estate agency work

The Real Estate Agents Authourity has a comprehesive website which is a great resource for understanding all aspects of the industry. The website has a public register of all license holders whether they be agents, branch managers or salespersons. The search  facility is ideal to just check the status of an individual with whom you may be dealing. As a piece of advice the best way to use the search facility is simply to enter the surname in the search box and then the CAPTCHA security word. It is not unusual to find an agent whose license may be regsitered at an address which is different to their office address and the area of the country they are oeprating in. In addition to the registered details of a license holder the register will detail any Disciplinary History of the license holder.

The following fact sheets are available from the REAA website and coud prove valuable as background reading on these subjects.

Buying or Selling a Property [PDF, 1.2 Mb] 


Real Estate Agent Code of Conduct [PDF, 152 kb]


Commission Fact Sheet [PDF, 190.2 kb]


Advertising Fact Sheet [PDF, 204.9 kb]


Auctions Fact Sheet [PDF, 181.5 kb]


Tenders Fact Sheet


Disclosure Fact Sheet [PDF, 172.7 kb]


Conflicts of Interest Fact Sheet [PDF, 175.8 kb]


Buyers Agents Fact Sheet [PDF, 179.9 kb]


New Zealand Residential Property Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide [PDF, 349 kb]