Real estate agents who could be misleading would-be buyers by under-quoting auction price guides are in NSW Fair Trading’s sights, with the agency reportedly closing in on a number of creative quoters in the industry.
Under-quoting – which refers to agents who falsely understate, orally, in writing or in advertising, the potential auction price of a property to buyers – is illegal in NSW, with a maximum penalty of $22,000. Over-quoting is also a no-go in the state, with the laws applying to agents who talk up a potential price to sellers as well as talk down the price to buyers.
Fair Trading has been investigating under-quoting for some time now, launching Operation Belaya, which aimed to investigate compliance with legislation by real estate agents, in November last year.
“Under-quoting is a serious offence and NSW Fair Trading will not tolerate activity of this kind,” Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox said at the time the operation launched. “Not only does it seriously compromise the integrity of the real estate market, it puts enormous financial stress on innocent home buyers.”
“Agents who engage in this illegal practice could face a maximum penalty of $22,000 or depending on the severity of the breaches an agency could have its licence cancelled.”
The controversy around auction price guides has been building in Australia, with Queensland passing laws to ban price guides prior to auction for properties last year.