I have been selling real estate in Punta Cana for more than a decade. I remember working in the New York property market for a couple of years. In New York agents and office workers, were required to adhere to the highest ethical standards, and we were forbidden to refer clients to landscapers, architects, painters, decorators, and finance companies for a fee. Even the suggestion that we had bent the rules and could benefit from a kickback would lead to immediate termination.
The market in Punta Cana is very different.
I have witnessed first-hand how the local market has developed over the years. Some aspects of the industry have changed for the better, but sadly some have become worse.
Dominican Republic’s Real estate is an unregulated industry that has led to the development of a lawless wild west where unwitting investors can fast become victims. For many years, the Asociación de Empresas Inmobiliarias, of which our agency, Punta Cana Lifestyles Real Estate is a member of- have been trying without success to get the local industry fully regulated.
While of course the majority of my colleagues are professionals who hold to the highest standards, there are always going to be people who will bend the rules. With the recent downturn in the market, these agents are getting more desperate and will do almost anything to make a sale. This sort of behavior harms the industry as a whole, and as a buyer or seller, you run a severe risk if you don’t work with a professional who puts your needs above all else.
The National Association of REALTORS® forbids any agent from doing the following, all of which sadly are regular occurrences in the Dominican Republic:
• Bad-mouthing other agents to prevent clients choosing another realtor.
• Refusing to share information and cooperate with other agents when it is in the client’s best interest to do so.
• Sharing office space with lawyers and charging clients high fees to ‘bundle’ the real estate transaction and legal work.
• Exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing pertinent information about a property.
• Soliciting another agent’s clients sometimes while in the middle of a closing.
Many agents in the Dominican Republic carry on like this – even veterans and members of local real estate associations.
The low public perception of estate agents as sleazy opportunists will only continue as long as this sort of behavior goes unchecked.
While every industry contains a few ‘bad apples,’ the property market in the Dominican Republic is particularly vulnerable to the effects of these unethical practices.
It would be a disaster for Punta Cana’s economy if the Dominican Republic was blacklisted and singled out as a place that foreign investors should avoid- and this is slowly becoming the case.