New laws protect buyers
New underquoting laws came into effect on Monday that will make house sale prices clearer and more transparent for would-be buyers.
The new laws include requirements for how estate agents estimate and advertise selling prices, making sure prospective buyers are given clear information about comparable and recent property sales in the same area.
Hefty fines of more than $30 000 and loss of sales commissions are also part of the Victorian Government’s package to deter estate agents from the practice of underquoting.
The new laws, a key part of reforms to the Estate Agents Act 1980, will make estate agents more accountable for their conduct.
A key component of the new legislation requires agents to provide the selling price of three comparable properties and an indicative selling price, taking into account the standard and condition, location and date of sale.
Other elements of the new underquoting laws include:
a ban on the use of qualifying words such as ‘offers above’, ‘from’ or ‘plus’ when advertising;
the indicative selling price in the Statement of Information not being below the agent’s estimate, seller’s asking price, or the amount of a rejected written offer;
agents will be required to update internet advertising within one day if a higher written offer is rejected by the seller;
a ban on advertising selling ranges of more than 10 per cent; and
stronger powers for Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) in issuing substantiation notices requiring agents to justify their price estimates and comparable properties.
‘‘Buying a house is stressful enough without having to deal with these types of underhanded tactics by real estate agents,’’ Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz said.
‘‘Our changes are going to help stamp out underquoting and make pricing clearer and more transparent.’’
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