Business

Illegal real estate agents and appraisers should be fined and jailed, says realtor

Top Bahamian real estate professional Mario Carey contended in a statement yesterday that appraisers operating illegally in The Bahamas must be fined and jailed for breaking The Bahamas’ laws.

Carey’s sentiment follows Bahamas Real Estate Association’s (BREA) stance that in the coming months it will fight to update its 25-year-old real estate legislation so that real estate agents and appraiser operating illegally in The Bahamas are hit with stiff penalties.

“I am tired of mincing words and being polite,” Carey said. “I applaud BREA for taking the strong stance against foreign real estate agents and especially lately, foreign appraisers. I have seen these people come in time and time again and take some of the largest appraisal jobs, including hotels, when they are totally illegal and they are not allowed to engage in this work.

“I cannot go into the United States and do an appraisal. I would be thrown into jail if I did and that is the same thing that should happen to them. Fine them $50,000 and throw them in jail.”

In the same statement, BREA President Christine Wallace-Whitfield explained that Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Elsworth Johnson has pledged his cooperation in looking out for agents and appraisers who may come to The Bahamas to operate illegally.

“That means we have more eyes out there watching out for this illegal activity, both appraisers and sales agents, but until the legislation is updated to include serious fines or jail time, until we make it a crime and not just a civil offense, we will continue to face this ongoing problem,” Wallace-Whitfield said.

“We want every real estate agent to be on the lookout and if they see anything suspicious to let us know, because we will seek action immediately. We have members who are trying their very best to earn a living and it is not right for someone else to take that bread out of their mouths, especially in challenging times like these.”

According to Carey, some big appraisal jobs can net five figures when assessing value for the insurance or pre-sale market. He blames companies for contracting these people who come in and work illegally, taking these contracts away from Bahamians.

“The culprits are the companies in The Bahamas that are bringing them in and they enter the country as tourists,” he said.

“You don’t need heavy equipment to be an appraiser. All you need is knowledge, a set of architect’s drawings or plans, laser measuring tools that fit into the pocket of a pair of slacks, an experienced eye and the willingness to justify your appointment by satisfying the wishes of the client when it comes to valuation.

“These companies which earn their revenue in The Bahamas are taking money that should go to well-qualified BREA-licensed agents and appraisers. And we have many qualified persons.”

Carey said the violations will not stop until the first fine is handed down and the first person operating illegally is expelled from the country.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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