$75,000 penalty for Victorian real estate agent

A Glen Waverley estate agency will contribute $75,000 to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund after acknowledging contraventions of Victorian consumer and property laws relating to property sales.

In November 2015, Consumer Affairs Victoria received a complaint about JRW Property International Pty Ltd (ACN: 122 029 725), alleging that one of its employees misled potential purchasers by advertising a property the company had been engaged to sell at a price that was less than the vendor’s selling price.

Our subsequent enquiries showed that:

  • in relation to a further five properties, an agent’s representative had sent emails to prospective purchasers suggesting a likely selling price less than the estimated selling price (ESP) on the sales authority
  • four properties were advertised on realestate.com.au at a price less than the estimated selling range (ESR) on the sales authority
  • five properties were advertised on realestate.com.au with a price likely to mislead potential purchasers. In such cases, the company uploaded property listings on the website and set the search parameters with a ‘non-explicit search price’ – this meant that the properties would display at a price search result that was significantly less than the estimated selling price on the sales authority.

The company’s officer in effective control and sole director, Dong Pei Ren, also known as Leo Ren, of Wantirna, acknowledged the company engaged in these contraventions and, as well as making the $75,000 contribution, has agreed to:

  • implement a compliance program within three months of the start of the undertaking, and maintain it for three years
  • display a public notice stating the agency’s contraventions at or near the reception desk of each of its existing or new premises from which the company conducts real estate services. The notice must be displayed within 14 days of the commencement of the undertaking and remain displayed for three months.

This enforceable undertaking will be in effect for three years.