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PHUKET: Has anybody noticed that the same properties can be listed on different websites with different descriptions and in some cases feel like completely different properties? Well, one of our readers did, and has brought to notice two listings about the same property.

Is it fair for a buyer or seller to be subjected to this type of behavior, assuming the listing is not a simple administrative mistake?

Will anyone actually buy a property solely on the basis of just a listing they have seen on a website?

Real estate lawyers in particular have to be on reasonably friendly terms, but remain independent from estate agents. Estate agents also receive a lot of criticism, but the profession itself does tend to draw a lot of commentary because property is something that touches all of our lives. When bad practice manifests itself, society wishes for better regulation. Governments worldwide pay lip service to that, but often fall short of delivering.

REGULATION

Real estate agents are not specifically regulated in Thailand. There is neither an overarching regulatory body that imposes codes of conduct and watchdog activities, nor any central point for feedback on agents. There is a hotchpotch of small associations throughout Thailand, but inevitably with some agents reluctant to volunteer to be part of any regime, those that do exist are not known or recognized by an average buyer or seller of real estate.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

However, Thailand has a high number of good laws. The issues with laws, as in other jurisdictions, are the manner in which they are enforced. Many enjoy the flexibility of law enforcement but then complain when it doesn’t suit them at another time. Setting a good example is one way to encourage others to follow laws and principles of good citizenship.

For those that aren’t specifically regulated, setting a good example is one way of ensuring the real estate industry in Phuket is not negatively perceived.

CUT OUT BAD PLAYERS

Encourage others to set a good example, and if they don’t, ostracize them from the business community. Excommunication can be a painful punishment in an industry where buzz and knowledge of what’s happening is an important part of the sales processes. If agents are dishonest in relation to what they are listing, the only way to react in an unregulated environment is to deny them business where you can.

DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF

If you are an agent and you know another agent is up to mischief, then attacking each other in an open forum will simply create negative vibes in what can often be perceived as a negative business environment. There is plenty of hype in the real estate market, but honest differentiation expressed tactfully can demonstrate to the potential buyer that your values and business principles are strong.

As that mirror on the wall will show… the truth will out.

Desmond Hughes has been an owner and operator of his law firm in Thailand for 12 years, and is a Senior Partner at Hughes Krupica law firm www.hugheskrupica.com

— Desmond Hughes