Real Estate Agents Underquoting - Adjournment
Thursday, 15 August 2019
T Smith (17:07:15): My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, and the action I seek from the minister for consumer affairs is an investigation into an auction at 2/9 Mary Street, Kew, on Saturday, 3 August 2019. The particulars of this auction are that the property was listed on the market indicating a price range of $690 000 to $720 000. The price was then revised up to between $720 000 and $750 000. At auction the property was put on the market at $800 000 and ultimately sold for $871 500, which is $121 500, or 16.5 per cent more, than the upper price quoted. I would like the minister to report back as to why the agent put the property on the market at $800 000 when they had quoted up to $750 000. Also, there was a courtyard that was shown in the marketing materials as an outdoor entertaining area. In the sales contract a shed in the courtyard was listed as a fixture of the property. However, the courtyard was not on the title and was instead common property. Disturbingly, the agent did not make mention of this in the preamble to the auction until a potential bidder asked a specific question, from all accounts a most unwanted question. This is quite a concerning development, noting that the government introduced new laws in May 2017 to strengthen the laws against underquoting in Victoria. Indeed the Consumer Affairs Victoria website says that underquoting can occur when a property is advertised at a price that is less than the estimated selling price, the seller’s asking price or a price already rejected by the seller. A number of constituents of mine were present at this auction. They felt that the agent had behaved improperly, and they asked me to raise this in Parliament so that the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation or Consumer Affairs Victoria could begin an investigation into the auction. I think that given the importance that the property market has to Victoria’s economy, people need to have confidence in the way that its key actors, particularly real estate agents, behave in that market. I am not casting aspersions on the agent who ran this auction, but I am asking the question on behalf of concerned constituents, because what has clearly occurred here seems on the face of it to be against the law. But I will let the minister respond. Indeed I will be very interested to see what she has to say when she returns to the Parliament or indeed writes to me in person.