Complaints Against Us Are Valid, Realtors Say

About 70 percent of complaints lodged against real estate agents are justified, says Nahman Shechter, chairman of the Association of Real Estate Brokers (MALDAN). The organization, which encompasses most authorized agents in Israel, gets some 500 complaints a year.

Shecter says most complaints are about the exorbitant real estate fees brokers demand. Other complaints include pressure to add a "tip" beyond the stipulated contract fee.

In some cases, realtors ask for fees on apartments that were sold after their contract period had already elapsed.

But, Shechter said about 150 of the complaints MALDAN gets each year are baseless and often represent an attempt to evade payment of legitimate realtor fees.

According to the realtors' organization, some 8,500 people are registered as real estate agents today, including 2,000 who have not renewed their licenses in the last two years.

About half of these are people who have turned to other areas during the real estate slump, but the other 1,000 are continuing to work without a current license.

MALDAN estimates that about 500 people work as real estate brokers without ever applying for a license.

The fee for a real estate agent's license is NIS 1,200 shekels. According to Shechter, the state has collected some NIS 12 million in license fees from realtors since 1999.