Underquoting up 50 percent, NSW Fair Trading figures show

Underquoting up 50 percent, NSW Fair Trading figures show
Underquoting up 50 percent, NSW Fair Trading figures show

Underquoting, or the illegal practice of understating property prices, by NSW real estate agents is up almost 50 per cent this year, according to NSW Fair Trading.

There were 38 penalty infringement notices for underquoting issued by Fair Trading in the first eight months of the year, compared with 26 for the whole of 2016. 

There is a fine of $2,200 for each infringement.

In NSW, agents cannot give consumers understated or vague property prices, including "offers above" a certain value. They must also provide Fair Trading officers – if asked – with appropriate documentation to show that they have complied with the new laws.

But some agents have found a way out by not quoting a price at all in their advertising and instead verbally underquoting the price when asked.

The new laws were introduced in NSW last year, while Victoria followed suit in May this year.  

Sydney estate agent Edwin Almeida, who regularly calls out dodgy practices on social media, said underquoting was widespread in Sydney.

He provided Fairfax Media with anecdotal examples. 

A home in Kellyville with a price range of $1.35 to $1.4 million was passed in at auction. Almeida cited the neighbour of the house told him the owner wanted $1.45 to $1.5 million. 

For another property in Blacktown, Almeida said the agent had given him a price guide in the mid-$800,000s when the owner had told him he was expecting more than $1 million.

"It's not so much a problem with new people entering the industry, but its the 'old dogs' with their 'price it low watch it go' approach who are doing it," Almeida said.

However, Fair Trading figures also show that public complaints alleging underquoting have slid sharply to 34 for the year to date from 216 last year.

"The number of reports received about underquoting has steadily declined and both consumers and industry participants have welcomed the [rule] changes," a spokeswoman for Fair Trading said.

"Fair Trading conducts regular inspections of real estate agencies as part of targeted and random compliance programs or in response to specific complaints to ensure compliance with the legislation."

 

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Underquoting NSW

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