Village Real Estate pays $15,000 for misleading advertising

An inner-west real estate agency has agreed to contribute $15,000 after acknowledging it made false and misleading representations about the sale price of a property.

Consumer Affairs Victoria commenced an investigation against Village Real Estate (Newport) Pty Ltd after receiving a complaint alleging that it had misled potential buyers by advertising a property at a price that was less than what the vendor would accept.

In December 2015, Village was engaged to sell a property in Seddon and completed a listing authority with an agent’s estimated selling price of $770,000 to $847,000. In the same month, a written offer of $900,000 was rejected by the vendors, who advised Village they would not consider any offer lower than $950,000.

In January 2016, Village advertised the property on www.realestate.com.au and www.domain.com.au at “$770,000+” and then later at “$800,000+” with the knowledge this was below what the vendors would accept. Prior to advertising, Village had appraised the property’s value as around $950,000.

In February 2016, the property sold for $995,000.

Village acknowledged it had contravened sections of the Australian Consumer Law (Victoria).

The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria has accepted undertakings from Village, its director, Mr Martin John Rankin, and its officer in effective control, Mr Hussein Saad, to:

  • contribute $15,000 (in three instalments) to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund, within 30 days of the start of the undertaking
  • at its own cost, implement a compliance program within three months of the start of the undertaking
  • display a public notice stating its contraventions at each of its existing or new premises from which the company conducts real estate services. This public notice must be displayed within 14 days of the undertaking and remain displayed for three months.

This enforceable undertaking will be in effect for three years.

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