Melbourne agency to face Federal Court

A Victorian real estate group has responded to underquoting allegations which Consumer Affairs Victoria laid against its Richmond franchised office.

In a statement from its head office, Hockingstuart said the group is not in a position to discuss specific details of the case while it is before the court.

“What we can say is our head office takes its responsibility to prospective buyers seriously,” the real estate group said.

“We have a range of measures in place to ensure accurate pricing of our portfolio of properties across the group, including undertaking annual audits at each office and providing regular, rigorous training to new and existing offices.

“Furthermore, we actively encourage vendors to advertise their properties with a price guide to ensure transparency for buyers and sellers alike,” the statement said.

Under current law, while vendors may seek the advice of agents, they are not required to disclose their reserve to agents until the day of auction and it can be higher than the advertised price if the interest is strong, Hockingstuart said.

“This continues to be a global issue across the real estate industry,” the group said.

Hockingstuart added that it is willing to work with Consumer Affairs Victoria on a solution that will ensure accurate pricing across the industry as a whole.

A spokesperson for Consumer Affairs Victoria told Real Estate Business that Consumer Affairs Victoria has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Hocking Stuart (Richmond) alleging contraventions of section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law (which prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct in trade) and section 30 of the Australian Consumer Law (which prohibits, in respect of the possible sale of land, false and misleading representations as to the price payable).

"The proceedings relate to the marketing of 11 properties in the Richmond area and Kew," they said. "As the matter is before the courts, Consumer Affairs Victoria will not be making any further comment."

Consumer Affairs Victoria currently has eight investigations into underquoting underway and has reviewed 880 sales for underquoting.

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