Hoskins Maroondah and estate agent Brent Peters fined $900,000 for unconscionable underquoting

Hoskins Maroondah and estate agent Brent Peters fined $900,000 for unconscionable underquoting
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

Hoskins Maroondah, and estate agency in Melbourne’s east and its director estate agent Brent Peters (pictured above) have been ordered to pay $899,550 by the Federal Court for misleading sales practices.

Between 2015 and 2016 the agency advertised 24 properties for sale at prices  lower than what it believed they would sell for.

These included properties at Croydon, Croydon Hills, Croydon North, Mooroolbark, Park Orchards, Ringwood, Ringwood North, Warranwood and Wonga Park in the city’s east.

The agency made false, misleading and deceptive representations about the sale of land and to have engaged in unconscionable conduct, the court found.

They will have to pay $860,000 in fines, $29,550 in compensation and $10,000 in costs to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Consumer Affairs Victoria director Sam Jenkin said the order was significant.

He hopes it sent a firm message to agents that the unscrupulous practice would not be tolerated.

"Underquoting is plainly unfair for prospective buyers and, as we've seen with this outcome, it can also be unfair for vendors too," Mr Jenkin said.

The highest penalty handed out in Victoria was in 2017 to Tim Heavyside and Fletchers offices which was fined $880,000 plus costs for underquoting on 22 properties.

The Federal Court's fine was divided between the Hoskins agency and Mr Peters, with both ordered to pay $430,000 and an extra $5000 in costs each.

Federal Court judge Peter Steward ruled Hoskins Maroondah and director Brent Peters be fined for "unconscionable conduct", including underquoting and then collecting an extra, incentivised commission once properties sold for more than advertised.

Evidence found a board member of the agency noted that the quoted price range was too low and made the business look like "shitty underquotes", Domain reported court documents show.

In one case a Croydon property at 30 Cass Avenue was quoted with a range of $495,000 to $550,000, despite internal estimates averaging $647,000.

The office ran a “Nearest to the Pin” game.

Public records show it sold for $677,000.

The court documents show the incentive commission was payable at $560,000.

Peters achieved Top 10 salesperson in his first year in real estate in 2001 and was recently named No. 1 salesperson out of a network of 55 offices.

The properties which the court considered were:

3 Alma Court, Ringwood 

2 Ambon Rise, Croydon North 

7 Campaspe Drive, Croydon Hills 

30 Cass Avenue, Croydon (Cass Avenue Property)

48 Crawley Grove, Ringwood North 

6 Drysdale Court, Croydon Hills 

12 Glen Avenue, Croydon 

6 Hannora Crescent, Croydon 

3 Henry Smith Place, Croydon Hills

43 Highland Avenue, Croydon 

21 Hyton Crescent, Croydon 

15 Janson Court, Croydon North 

30 Kelly Court, Warranwood 

47 Mundara Drive, Ringwood

96 Partridge Way, Mooroolbark 

23 Rodleigh Street, Croydon (Rodleigh Street Property) 

14 Roymar Court, Wonga Park 

16 Settlers Hill Crescent, Croydon Hills 

33A Timms Avenue, Croydon

14 Webster Avenue, Croydon 

12 Western Way, Mooroolbark 

8-12 Williams Road, Park Orchards

8 Wilton Close, Croydon North 

8 Valkyrie Crescent, Ringwood 

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