Consumer Affairs Victoria takes civil action against estate agent

Consumer Affairs Victoria has begun civil proceedings against Melbourne South Eastern Real Estate Pty Ltd in the Federal Court of Australia, for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law.

Consumer Affairs Victoria takes civil action against estate agent3d house on piles of coins

CAV will allege that the company engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, and made false or misleading representations, in relation to 25 property sale listings on the realestate.com.au website, between 1 September 2014 and 25 August 2015. These properties were located in Ashwood, Burwood, Burwood East, Chadstone, Hughesdale, Mount Waverley and Wheelers Hill.

Further, CAV will allege that, when uploading properties for sale on realestate.com.au, the company set price search parameters that were less than the:

  • appraisal price, and
  • for some of the properties, the estimated selling price written on the sale authority.

New under-quoting laws designed to increase price transparency for home buyers commenced on 1 May.

The reforms to the Estate Agents Act 1980 include new requirements for how estate agents estimate and advertise selling prices, and ensure prospective buyers are given information about the most comparable property sales.

Under the new under-quoting laws…

  • the indicative selling price and advertised price on a property must be a single price or a price range of up to 10 per cent
  • the use of qualifying words and symbols such as “offers above”, “from” or “plus” when advertising a property price is prohibited
  • agents will be required to update advertising, if a higher written offer is rejected by the seller based on price, within one business day for internet advertising and as soon as practical for print advertising
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria will have strengthened powers to issue substantiation notices that require agents to justify their price estimates and comparable properties chosen.

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