Underquoting agents under the hammer
Fair Trading inspectors will be visiting real estate agencies, auctions and open homes across Sydney’s suburbs this week to crack down on property underquoting.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said teams of inspectors will be focusing on the illegal practice of falsely advertising property or indicating it will sell for less than its estimated selling price.
“With so many people in NSW looking to buy, the last thing that potential homebuyers need is to have their time and money wasted by real estate agents providing misleadingly low and incorrect price estimates,” Mr Anderson said.
“That’s why I’m sending teams of Fair Trading inspectors on operations across Sydney’s suburbs to ensure agents are doing the right thing, and buyers are protected under the legislation.”
Under reforms to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act that commenced in 2016, agents who commit an underquoting offence can be fined up to $22,000 and could lose their commission and fees earned from the sale.
Mr Anderson said in one recent weekend alone, Fair Trading inspectors identified 14 breaches while inspecting 33 sales agents.
“Last week we issued almost $6,000 in fines for a range of offences, including underquoting, operating without a licence and failing to have the right insurance,” Mr Anderson said.
“We will also be using this opportunity to educate the industry and ensure agents are crystal clear on their obligations under the law.”
Mr Anderson said there are simple steps prospective homebuyers can do to protect themselves from underquoting.
“While an agent does not have to publically disclose a price while marketing a property, you should still always ask the agent what their estimated selling price and what the seller’s expectations are if you are interested in the property,” Minister Anderson said.
“We want buyers to do their homework. Researching recently sold properties in the area will give you a good idea of what to expect – and if the price is dramatically different for a similar property, question it.”
If you suspect that an agent has deliberately underquoted their reasonable estimate of a property's likely selling price, whether in information provided directly to you or through marketing material, you can lodge a complaint online or call NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.