Underquoting fine on nine Hockingstuart Doncaster listings

Underquoting fine on nine Hockingstuart Doncaster listings
Underquoting fine on nine Hockingstuart Doncaster listings

The Doncaster office of the real estate agency Hocking Stuart has been fined $160,000 by the Federal Court for underquoting on property listings.

Hockingstuart Doncaster was ordered to pay the penalty, following an action brought by the Victorian Director of Consumer Affairs.

The misleading prices occurred in advertisements published between June 2014 and December 2015 on nine offerings.
Justice Bernard Murphy it as “serious” and “plainly deliberate."

The judge found their underquoting was widespread and a significant part of its sales strategy at the time.

It was intended to create the illusion of a bargain, Justice Murphy said.

“It involved the deliberate creation of an enticing, but illusory and misleading, marketing web for the sale of nine homes.

“The purpose of doing so was to attempt to generate a higher level of buyer interest in the property, in the expectation it would translate into a higher sales price.”

Hocking Stuart Doncaster’s defence that such practices were widespread in the industry.

Domain reported the franchise agreed it made the false representations and that it breached state and federal consumer laws.

The judge estimated the small business derived over $34,000 from the contravening conduct.

A Doncaster property advertised for more than $790,000 sold at auction for $1.01 million.

A TEMPLESTOWE property, advertised at above $1.7 million after the owner signalled they wanted $1.8 million to $1.9 million.

The home sold for $2.04 million at auction.

The court ordered the agency keep records of price estimates for three years, publish a public notice advising consumers of their misleading and deceptive conduct, and review its compliance program.

It follows a fine of $300,000 imposed on Hocking Stuart Richmond for underquoting last year.

Underquoting Federal Court

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