Trust ordered to pay $132k in unpaid commission to real estate agent

Barry Beatson, left, was in charge of Waiaruhe Station (file photo).

Barry Beatson, left, was in charge of Waiaruhe Station (file photo).

A trust has been ordered to pay more than $132,000 in commission to a real estate agent over the sale of a $6.6m farm.

Waiaruhe Station in Dannevirke was sold between the family trusts of two brothers, Maurice Beatson and Barry Beatson.

Barry Beatson was in charge of Waiaruhe Trust, which owned the station, and Maurice Beatson was also a trustee. He also owned the neighbouring farm, Ohukia Station.

In 2017, the trust engaged Property Brokers agent Jim Crispin to sell Waiaruhe Station.

A judgment delivered by Judge Kevin Kelly said Crispin thought the property could sell for about $7m, but it was passed up at auction.

A buyer, the Matahiwi-Handyside Trust, later offered to purchase the station for $6.6m.

Crispin had a signed agency agreement with the trust, but it had expired at the time of the offer.

He renewed the agency agreement with an end date of August 2017 and obtained the brothers’ signatures, and that of another trustee, Peter Roebuck.

Maurice Beatson purchased the station for $6.6m (file photo).

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Maurice Beatson purchased the station for $6.6m (file photo).

The offer was presented to Barry Beatson in July and accepted on the condition Handyside provided evidence it had done its due diligence by 4pm on August 3, 2017.

Maurice Beatson, however, made it known he would have purchased the station himself if he knew it would sell for the lower price.

Just after 4pm that day, the due diligence had not been sent and Barry’s lawyer cancelled the sale. It was then sold unconditionally to Maurice Beatson’s trust for the same price.

Later that month, an invoice was issued for the commission, but to this date it remained unpaid.

The sale was completed in December 2017 but the Beatson brothers and Roebuck argued Property Brokers was not entitled to the commission because Crispin had breached rules of the Real Estate Agent Act.

This included renewing the date of the agency agreement, not providing a written appraisal and failing to provide a signed copy of the written agreement within 48 hours.

But Kelly ruled against the brothers, and said their argument largely relied on the fact they had sold the farm within the family.

He found there was an existing agreement at the time of the sale and rejected the trust’s argument it had not been made aware of the agency’s complaints process.

“On balance, I am satisfied that when the agency agreement was signed by Mr [Barry] Beatson on 22 February 2017 he was aware of the plaintiff’s complaints procedures before the defendants entered into the agency agreement.

“Whether this was properly followed by the plaintiff is not a matter I need to consider.”

A large portion of the proceedings was focused on whether the agent had complied with s126 of the Act and after considering all evidence Kelly ruled he had.

The trust was ordered to pay $132,850 in commission plus 2% interest each month.