Inner-city Sydney real estate agent Bresic Whitney in Darlinghurst were on Friday (13 March) issued with two court attendance notices to face Parramatta Local Court on allegations of underquoting.
NSW Fair Trading served the court attendance notices on Friday afternoon following ongoing investigations as part of Operation Belaya, an operation in November which specifically targeted real estate compliance in Sydney’s inner-city.
Fair Trading allege there were two instances where Bresic Whitney falsely understated the estimated selling prices, with estimates represented in the advertisements for the properties being less than the agreed estimates in the Agency Agreements with the vendors.
Agents found to be engaging in underquoting could face a maximum penalty of $22,000 or depending on the severity of the breaches an agency could have their licence cancelled.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe welcomed the action.
“Underquoting is when an agent falsely understates the selling price of a property in the course of marketing that property, and is an offence under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002,” Mr Stowe said.
“Consumers should be wary about receiving verbal advice from agents and where ever practical insist on receiving advice in writing. In particular consumers can and should specifically ask the agent what is the vendor’s price expectation.
“If the agent’s answer is less than the estimate in the agency agreement they may have committed the act of underquoting.
“Before inspecting a property it pays to do your homework by researching what the average sales prices for dwellings of a similar nature are in the location where you are looking.
“Prior to purchasing people should seek independent professional advice, such as a property valuer or agent who is not involved in the sale.
“When purchasing property, another helpful tip for consumers is to set a limit and to stick to it, often consumers can get their heart set on a property even though may be unable to afford it or it may not best meet their needs.”
Representatives of Bresic Whitney Darlinghurst are due to face the Parramatta Local Court on 24 April.