Agent in firing line
Another underquoting investigation
A FORMER Ray White franchisee is the latest estate agent to face watchdog action over alleged underquoting and trust account mismanagement.
The Sarain Pty Ltd and director Surinder Sarain are alleged to have breached the Estate Agents Act 1980 operating as Ray White Werribee.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to hold an inquiry into the marketing of 14 western suburbs properties.
Mr Sarain, 42, of Ormond, and his company advertised the homes for less than the vendor’s reserve price or below the estimated selling price, CAV alleges.
It also alleges Mr Sarain failed to meet certain trust account record requirements.
The Herald Sun has sought comment from Mr Sarain.
Ray White spokeswoman Lisa Pennell said Mr Sarain had operated the brand’s Werribee office for about 2½ years from July 2013.
“We actually parted ways with Surinder earlier last year. We had been dissatisfied with the performance of that office for some time and he hasn’t been a part of our group since March 2016,” she said.
Ms Pennell said she could not elaborate further on why the group was dissatisfied, but said it was unaware of any conduct that could have breached the Act.
“If we had been aware of that, we would have advised CAV ourselves,” she said.
Mr Sarain is now listed as an associate director of Stockdale & Leggo in Caulfield and the managing director of 361 Degrees Real Estate. That brand’s website lists offices in Werribee, Tarneit, Thomastown and Caroline Springs.
The Sarain Pty Ltd is the 10th agency CAV has taken action against for alleged underquoting since launching its Taskforce Vesta crackdown.
It comes as a Yarrawonga real estate agency and its director were fined $15,000 plus costs after pleading guilty to trust account deficiencies and misappropriating funds.
A CAV investigation revealed Aldergate Nominees Pty Ltd — trading as Stockdale & Leggo Yarrawonga — and its sole director, Tracey Anne Smith, 43, of Yarrawonga, misappropriated more than $18,500, relating to 21 transactions, between October 2015 and August 2016.
Ms Smith and Aldergate Nominees’ licences were cancelled as a result.
Paul Pfeiffer, of Melbourne Deluxe Property, will be sentenced in the County Court in October after pleading guilty to misappropriating about $250,000 of clients’ money.
Ex-LJ Hooker agent Tri Duc Ngo, who also uses the alias Joseph Ngo, will face court again next week in relation to more than 300 charges relating to alleged plundered trust accounts and stolen house deposits.