Misleading auction price advertising to be targeted by Consumer Affairs Victoria

Misleading auction price advertising to be targeted by Consumer Affairs Victoria
Misleading auction price advertising to be targeted by Consumer Affairs Victoria

The much discussed practice of underquoting, or bait pricing, has attracted the interest of Consumer Affairs Victoria, who have announced they will be keeping a close eye on the property market, and specifically auctions, this autumn season.

The practice of underquoting, much-discussed on Property Observer, has director of Consumer Affairs Victoria Claire Noone set to catch out real estate agents misleading prospective buyers. This is timely, considering the potential Queensland change to legislation to stop all price guides at auction in a bid to solve the issue of underquoting that the REIQ claims is rampant in the auction-heavy capitals.

"In this peak auction period, we are gathering market intelligence through online monitoring and other data collection methods," Noone said. 

"We will be watching for any misconduct during the buying and selling process - from the moment a property is advertised to when deposits are paid and held in trust accounts.”

She also expressed that staff would be attending auctions to ensure they are “conducted according to auction rules”. Property Observer welcomes this attention into the issue, particularly surrounding the announced attention being paid to indicators of misleading price advertising and campaigns.

However, Noone also urged prospective buyers to ready themselves with auction rules, including price advertising and underquoting, prior to attending auction so that they can be prepared.

"Comparing the initial advertised price with the sale price is not evidence of underquoting," Noone explained. 

"Underquoting is when an agent misleads a prospective buyer about the likely selling price of a property for sale.”

She explained that examples of this included when a property is advertised or quoted to a prospective buyer at a price lower than the seller’s asking price or auction reserve price, the agent’s estimate of the selling price or a genuine offer or expression of interest.

Property Observer recently attended a Sydney auction that was potentially a case of underquoting, with a reserve price set some $200,000 above the price guide.

Noone also reminded buyers that, at auction, you will not be able to make a contract subject to conditions and that there is no cooling off period.

Underquoting is a regularly debated topic. Recently, observer Mark Armstrong referred to is as the auction system’s “necessary evil”, meanwhile a petition has been started by buyer’s agent Patrick Bright for the mandatory publishing of reserve prices.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

Consumer Affairs Underquoting Victoria Auctions Price Guides

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