Homebuyers across Barwon will have greater protection when purchasing a property, with strengthened laws set to clamp down on real estate underquoting passing NSW Parliament last week. These reforms deliver on the NSW Government’s 2015 election commitment to crackdown on underquoting in real estate transactions. Astonishingly, there have been no successful prosecutions related to underquoting made under this Act in 13 years, so this reform is long overdue. Not only are homebuyers dealing with an increasingly competitive market but they often feel completely misled when it comes to the price of properties they are interested in buying, which is pushing their dream of home ownership further out of reach. Amendments to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 include:
· Agents will be required to provide evidence of their estimated selling price to the vendor and this estimate must be stated in the agency agreement;
· When marketing a property an agent must only use the estimated selling price provided in the agency agreement;
· Estimated selling price can be a single figure or a price range. If a price range is used, the highest price must not be more than 10% higher than the lowest price;
· Advertisements and representations that say “offers over” or “offers above” or any similar statement will be prohibited;
· Agents will be required to keep a register of prices quoted on a property whether these are provided to the vendor or prospective purchasers.
In addition to the existing penalty of $22,000, agents found guilty of underquoting will be liable to forfeit any commission or fees from the sale. The new laws take effect on 1 January 2016, with information sessions already underway. For more information visit: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.