A real estate agent has spammed 300 households with a letter warning them their property values would plunge when a public housing block was built nearby.
Harcourts salesman Chris Parsons claimed many of his clients in Mandurah, south of Perth, planned to sell up rather than have 100 ‘socially disadvantaged’ new neighbours.
Mr Parsons said he and other residents were concerned about the $28.1 million development’s ‘obvious effect on property values’.
The document, bearing the Harcourts Mandurah letterhead, asked if the home owner had been informed of the new building in their suburb.
Real estate agent spams households with offensive warning about new development to house homeless and ‘socially disadvantaged’ people
‘I am writing to you directly due to your close proximity to the upcoming development of a 50-apartment complex that will house up to 100 homeless and ‘socially disadvantaged’ residents,’ the letter sent on Monday began.
‘Many of my previous clients have already come to me with intentions to move out of the area after hearing of what is coming.
‘I personally live in and own a home close to this planned development and have my own concerns, including the obvious effect on property values.’
Labor MP Simon McGurk (pictured second right) announcing that the WA Government would increase its investment in Mandurah Common Ground to $28.1 million. The development was this week the subject of a letter saying it would affect house prices
Mr Parsons wrote that he met with the developers and discovered that due to council zoning rules, ‘little to no’ community consultation was required.
He told residents to call or email him to find out more about ‘what this could mean for the future value of your home’.
Outraged recipients posted the letter on local social media groups, speculating that the letter was really a ploy to drive sales.
‘To me it looks like a scare tactics letter for him to get you to sell your house. Do your homework. Plus this if it is true is a great project that will help so many less fortunate have a safe, warm place to live,’ one local wrote.
Real estate agent Chris Parsons has apologised after spamming households with a warning about a new development to house homeless people in Mandurah, WA
After recipients complained, Mr Parsons wrote a grovelling apology and handed it out to the same 300 homes on Wednesday.
‘I would like to apologise for any concerns this has caused, as a resident of this neighbourhood and a local real estate agent I have had discussions with members of the public around this topic and I was looking to gather further information, so that I could be in a better position to assist home owners where I can,’ he wrote.
‘It was not my intention to generate negativity around this development but instead to get a better understanding of the community sentiment in a small sample area within close proximity to the site.’
Mr Parsons added that he was confident the facility ‘will be of benefit to the community’ and be well run and maintained by local and state governments.
He wrote that Harcourts Mandurah had collected donations for a homeless support group in the area for more than 10 years.
Chris Parsons issued a grovelling apology letter after his initial letter did not go down well with locals in Mandurah
The company said the initial letter was a case of Mr Parsons ‘flying solo’ and that it did not believe he was acting with any malice towards homeless people.
‘We have investigated the matter and can confirm this is the result of an error in judgement, rather than any deliberate attempt to agitate or create negativity,’ Harcourts Australia chief operations officer Lisa Pennell said.
‘The agent in question is a relatively new team member and was genuinely attempting to engage with his local community to gauge sentiment and provide advice around the market.
‘He personally lives in a property he owns in the direct vicinity of the proposed development.
‘Chris is sincerely sorry for any distress caused and the office will ensure appropriate processes are followed for sign off of marketing material going forward.’
Ms Pennell listed 13 charities and seven local businesses Harcourts Mandurah had raised money for and claimed it sponsored 43 local and overseas community organisations.