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$22,000 fine: Crackdown on dodgy real estate act

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Young couple looking for apartment showing agent which property they want to buy
Image: Getty.

Sydney real estate agents who deliberately underquote property prices have been put on notice as Fair Trading takes aim at the practice.

NSW Fair Trading inspectors will attend auctions, open houses and agencies across Sydney to identify agents deliberately low-balling property values, with those caught facing fines of up to $22,000.

They could also lose their commission, and face jail.

Legally, NSW real estate agents need to provide an estimated selling price with evidence, based on how much similar homes in the area have recently sold for. The price can either be one figure, or within a 10 per cent range, however it also needs to be revised during the auction campaign as more information around buyer expectations comes to light.

Better Regulation Minister Keven Anderson said $6,000 worth of fines have already been handed out after Fair Trading inspectors found 14 breaches while inspecting 33 agents.

Fines were also issued for operating without a licence or operating without the right insurance.

And in the year to September 2020, Fair Trading issued nearly $400,000 in fines.

“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,” 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.”

He said people who suspect an agent is deliberately underquoting should lodge a complaint through NSW Fair Trading.

Homebuyers are also being urged to ask the agent what the seller’s expectations are, in addition to what the agent’s estimated selling price is. They should also do their own research into how much the home is worth.

It comes as Australia’s housing market rockets higher, with prices rising 2.1 per cent in February - the fastest increase in 17 years.

The latest house price figures are due to be released on Thursday morning. Preliminary figures show that since Sydney values hit the bottom of their slump in September last year, they have risen 8 per cent.

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance