Top 8 Things to Avoid in the Real Estate Agent you Choose to List your Home

1 *Agents that are rude. Sellers often pick these agents under the mistaken impression that it will benefit them because they have a “tough agent”. But in most real estate markets, other agents typically don’t want to deal with them and are less likely to show their listings. Additionally, when buyers run into a rude listing agent, they are more inclined to come away with a negative impression of the property.

2 *Agents that make it more difficult to show their listings. In most states agents, can put a lockbox on a house. Some agents in these states will put in the listing that you have to make an appointment with the listing agent. Since the buyer’s agent has to call and make appointment instead of just showing the listing, this dramatically cuts down on the number of showings these sellers receive.

 

3 *Agents that only work as real estate agents occasionally. While it seems like a good idea to use your brother’s friend that has sold 3 houses in the last 5 years, it’s probably not. These agents don’t know the market as well as a full time agent. Additionally, they don’t understand what is typical in a real estate transaction in your region and an experienced buyer’s agent can use this to their client’s advantage at your expense. If you were going in for a root canal you would not want to use a dentist that has only seen 3 patients in the last 5 years. In the same way, you don’t want to hand over the sale of your largest asset to someone that is inexperienced.

 

4 *Agents that are so desperate they try and steal clients away from every agent that shows the house. While this is rarely successful, it does make an agent think twice before showing the listing to another client knowing there is a hungry vulture waiting there for them.

 

5 *Agents that don’t work on the weekends. Real Estate is a 7 days a week business. If your agent is not answering the phone on the weekends, you can expect that the number of showings you will receive is going to be cut down. Sometimes buyers are in from out of state for the weekend and are planning on making an offer while they are in town. They usually narrow it down to two or three properties. While your agent does not return calls about your property over the weekend, the listing agent for the other property probably will answer the buyer’s questions about their client’s property. When it comes time to make an offer, the buyer is going to make an offer on the house they know more about and feel more comfortable with.

 

6 *Agents that have a bizarre set of rules that is atypical for the industry. This can come in many forms. Some agents want all correspondence with them to be done by fax instead of telephone or email. If the option fee is usually $100 and your agent is demanding $500 you can expect that their eccentric rules is turning away potential buyers. Being eccentric is great with art, but in a real estate transaction, it usually makes people wary.

 

7 *Agents that don’t take photos of your property. There is no good excuse for not taking photos of your property. If your agent is only going to take 1 or worse 0 photos, it’s time to find a new agent.

 

*Agents that don’t have a website. As real estate has become more of a business based on technology, with buyers looking online for houses, and more of the real estate transaction taking place through email, you want your agent to be operating in the 21st century. If your agent doesn’t have a website it’s a good sign that they are still practicing real estate in the age of dinosaurs.

 

Tulita Smalbach lives and works in Cartagena de Indias Colombia. Working as a realtor in the Cartagena de Indias Real Estate market. Inmobiliaria Cartagena  is dedicated to providing its clients with honest and experienced advice when they are looking to purchase in the Cartagena de Indias market . If you are looking for lands (venta de lotes industriales en Cartagena de Indias Colombia) or any other property (lotespara comprar en Cartagena de Indias Colombia) they can help you in your search through the next link:inmuebles en Cartagena Colombia

Serious Animal Cruelty Under the Crimes Act (NSW)

Jacob Vanderschoot became the first person to be convicted of serious animal cruelty at the Local Court, in Mt. Druitt, NSW. Vanderschoot used a boning knife to cut the dog Bouncer’s throat and left him lying in his front yard for hours[1]. For this act, Vanderschoot received no jail time and was instead sentenced to a 12 month intensive corrective order.  This seems like a good time to talk about the serious cruelty provision under the Crimes Act.

 

Serious cruelty provisions

In NSW, animal cruelty offences are legislated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979) (POCTAA). Under s5, a person shall not commit an act of cruelty upon an animal. Cruelty is defined as any act of which the animal is unreasonably, unnecessarily or unjustifiably beaten, kicked, killed etc[2]. However, in 2005, the NSW government brought in the Crimes Amendment (Animal Cruelty) Bill 2005 which added animal cruelty laws into the existing Crimes Act (1900)(NSW). The amendment was introduced to deal with the worst examples of animal cruelty, that is, cases where offences are committed with the intention of inflicting pain on the animal in circumstances that amount to serious instances of animal cruelty, such as torture, and where the animal is killed, seriously injured or experiences prolonged suffering.  The amendment was also introduced in response to several incidences of offenders intentionally inflicting injury on dogs and horses used by the NSW Police.

Under POCTAA, the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League (AWL) prosecute the matters with no involvement of the police, however, a new amendment to the Law Enforcement (Police Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002  has meant that persons suspected of serious cruelty offences can be prosecuted by the police and welfare groups together. This guarantees that a guilty person’s fingerprints would be taken and a subsequent notation made on their criminal record which did not necessarily occur under POCTAA[3].

 

The elements of the offence

As previously mentioned, Vanderschoot is the first person convicted of the serious cruelty provision under the Crimes Act. He is not, however, the first person to be charged with the offence. In Larobina v R[4], the accused was charged after he and the co-accused injected a ferret with an unknown substance. The accused was convicted at the Magistrates Court but was overturned at the District Court after the prosecution failed to make the charge under the correct provision. Being an untested provision, the appeal in Larobina v R concerning the elements of the offence. Therefore, if prosecutors are struggling with the concept it certainly warrants a detailed investigation.

Under s530, in order to be charged with serious animal cruelty a person must express the intention to inflict severe pain by torturing, beating or committing any other serious act of cruelty on an animal, and also, kill or serious injury, or cause prolonged suffering to the animal. As with any piece of legislation, statutory interpretation is needed to determine the components that are necessary to be made out by the prosecution.  There are three elements to s530(1) of the Crimes Act. There must be:

  1. an intention to inflict serious pain
  2. an act that was committed upon the animal
  3. xwhere the animal is killed, seriously injured, or had suffered for a prolonged period

For the offence to be made out, these 3 elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution[5]. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 5 years.

 

No jail time

Magistrate Corry said the defendant had “caused severe injuries” to Bouncer and “allowed it (sic) to suffer unnecessarily for hours with its throat cut[6]”. Vanderschoot was found guilty so presumably satisfied the 3 elements of the offence. Despite this, Vanderschoot received a 12 month intensive corrections order to be served in the community, subject to strict conditions. In sentencing, the magistrate considered the defendant’s age and a psychological report presented to the court[7]. Maximum penalties are rarely even given during sentencing so it was unlikely that Vanderschoot would have received 5 years. In sentencing, a magistrate can take into account, the nature and seriousness of the crime, the circumstances of the offender, the need to deter the convicted offender from committing further crimes, and the need to deter others from committing similar crimes.  This case was heard at the Magistrates Court and therefore is not reported as in the higher courts. However, it is obvious from the sentence that the magistrate put more weight on the circumstances of Vanderschoot rather than the seriousness of the crime[8].

While recognising the importance of rehabilitation, it is hard to reconcile that Vanderschoot was found guilty of serious animal cruelty and not is not serving his sentence in jail. A person who commits this type of offence should be separated from the community to protect the public, as with any other violent crime. A 2002 study was the first to demonstrate the significant association between animal cruelty,anti-social personality traits and polysubstance abuse[9]. There is also evidence that animal cruelty and lead to bullying[10], child abuse, and other violent crimes including murder[11].  The seriousness of animal cruelty is undeniable and needs to be addressed by the judicial system.

Finally, it is worth mentioning again that as this case was heard at the Magistrates Court, and has no precedent value. This means that the appellate courts will take this judgment into consideration but is not binding. Therefore, this decision does not necessarily mean that every person guilty of serious animal cruelty will receive this sentence.  Its is within the judge’s discretion to give a greater or even lesser sentence. This being said, Bouncer, who has now recovered, deserves better.  As does the AWL Vets and Vet Nurses who put him back together, the inspectors who investigated the offence, and the AWL, and DPP lawyers who prosecuted the matter.

ACT Ban Factory Farming but How will it be Enforced

This week the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed legislation to prohibit the use of battery cages and sow stalls[1]. This is a step forward for animal protection and been hailed as a victory by animal advocacy groups such as Voiceless and Animals Australia.

Under s9A of the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013 it is an offence for a person to keep a laying fowl in battery cage. A battery cage is defined as a cage that does not allow the fowl to fully stretch, perch, access litter, and lay eggs in a nest. Furthermore, under s9C it is an offence for a person to remove or trim the beak of a fowl for a non-therapeutic purpose.

Practices such as the use of battery cages have been described as “legalised animal cruelty”[2]. My concern is how the new laws banning battery cages going to be enforced when the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (AWA) in its current state is poorly enforced? I understand that there should be a distinction between legal animal production procedures and animal cruelty, but the issue of enforcement is relevant to both.

In the ACT, the AWA empowers inspectors to promote and monitor acceptable standards of care, and protect animals from cruelty or welfare offences[3]. Inspector may enter any property, inspect a premises, and seize any animal if the inspector believes it necessary to do so[4]. In terms of penalties, the maximum penalty for an act of cruelty under the AWA is 100 penalty units ($14,000[5]), imprisonment for 1 month or both[6]. In the ACT, the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate (TAMS) is the lead agency for animal welfare and administers the AWA. The Executive Director of the Parks and City Services Division in TAMS is appointed as the ACT’s Animal Welfare Authority[7] and consists of three inspectors from RSPCA ACT, six officers from TAMS and all sworn Australian Federal Police officers were authorised as inspectors under the Act[8].

 

Animal Welfare Prosecution Statistics

There is little doubt that RSPCA inspectors are hard-working, dedicated people in a very difficult situation. However what I find concerning is that in 2011-2012, the RSPCA National Statistics reported that RSPCA ACT investigated 1437 cruelty offences with only 2 successful prosecutions[9] (0.05 prosecutions per 10,000).Furthermore, there were no routine inspections in the ACT when in other states inspections were routinely done on feedlots, intensive farms, and abattoirs. For a comparison, RSPCA NSW did not fair much better investigated 14445 cruelty offences with 64 prosecutions (0.08 prosecutions per 10,000).

 

EU ban on battery cages

The new legislative changes in ACT are in step with the prohibition of battery cages in the European Union (EU) under the Council Directive 1999/74/EC. Switzerland was one of the earliest countries to incorporate the Directive into national law by amending the Swiss Animal Protection Ordinance 1981[10]. Switzerland’s prosecution of animal welfare offences varies from canton to canton with the national average of 1.85 per 10,000 persons. In 2012, Valais prosecuted 9 offences (0.28 per 10,000), Fribourg prosecuted 26 offences (0.89 per 10,000), and Neuchâtel prosecuted 28 offences (1.6 per 10,000). The Swiss champion of animal welfare is the canton of St Gallen with 248 prosecutions (5.09 per 10,000)[11].

 

Australia should be prosecuting more offenders

So why the discrepancy between the rates between Australia and Switzerland? Firstly, animal welfare has been enshrined in the Swiss Constitution by stating that in relation to non-human gene technology the “dignity of living beings” be taken into account[12]. Secondly, the Animal Protection Act[13]  and the Animal Protection Ordinance[14]are federal animal welfare regimes which are enforced by each canton. The reality is that Australia is not ready to recognised animals in its Constitution at this point. However, In order for Australia to improve animal welfare there must be a uniform national approach as in Switzerland. It is also important that this Commonwealth legislation removes terminology such as unnecessary[15] or unjustified[16] pain.

The RSPCA of each state investigate over 1000 cruelty offences each year and they do so when it is reasonably necessary. The fact that prosecutions are low must be attributed to argument that an offender can raise as to what is unnecessary pain. The new ACT laws ban specific acts and do not allow for this “wiggle room”.  Therefore, when the new laws come into full effect in 2017 it will be interesting to see how they affect prosecution rates. There will undoubtedly be some producers who do not comply with the new laws, but will they be investigated and prosecuted?

If prosecution rates remain at the same current low levels legislators will have to address whether more personnel or funding is needed for investigating or prosecuting, or even changes as to what is required to prove an offence.  If there is no change in prosecution rates then the new laws should be considered ineffective because although the legislation bans horrific practices it has not provided any mechanisms to monitor its implementation or given inspectors greater powers to enforce and prosecute when it is breached.