Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) commenced proceedings in the Federal Court last week against real estate agency Hoskins Maroondah (Hoskins) and its director, alleging, among other things, that Hoskins underquoted on the sale of 26 properties between 2015 and 2016.
The proceeding against Hoskins comes less than a week after the Federal Court imposed a penalty of
- $160,000 on Manningham Property Group, trading as Hocking Stuart Doncaster, for underquoting on 9 properties; and
- a record $880,000 on Fletcher & Parker Balwyn for misleading and deceptive conduct relating to underquoting on 22 properties.
This provides a stark reminder to real estate agencies to be aware of their responsibilities under the Estate Agents Act 1980 (Vic). In light of the ongoing investigations by CAV’s underquoting taskforce, agents must remember to:
- ensure any estimated selling price is reasonable
- notify the seller and revise the estimate if the agent becomes aware that the estimate is unreasonable
- prepare a statement of information about residential properties they are selling
- ensure that representations made to prospective purchasers do not contain prohibited terms, for example, using modifiers such as ‘starting at’ or ‘+’.
The above are key changes to the underquoting provisions in the Estate Agents Act 1980 (Vic) which came into effect on 1 May 2017.
For further information on the amended underquoting provisions, please read our previous blogs, The final piece in the underquoting puzzle – Parliament passes legislation to address underquoting and Underquoting under scrutiny – real estate agent penalised for underquoting.