In a major crackdown on underquoting, investigators from Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) have raided the offices of 60 real estate agents.
Underquoting refers to the process whereby agents entice more potential buyers for a property by quoting lower values than the vendor would actually accept.
More than 1,000 recent property sales files were inspected and several agents are expected to face prosecution, the Victorian Sun Herald today reported.
CAV director Dr Claire Noone said one real estate agent tried to stop investigators accessing his files.
“After being advised that failure to allow entry and inspection of files were both offences under the Estate Agents Act, CAV successfully gained entry," Ms Noone said.
Currently, 80 investigators are examining the seized files for illegal and unethical price underquoting.
“Investigators are currently collecting details relating to the estimated selling price established by the agent, the vendor’s price, the advertised price and the final sale price,” Ms Noone said.
According to Ms Noone, those found to be in breach of the law could have their licenses revoked.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria said agents felt as though there was no need to abide by the laws banning deliberate underquoting because nobody was enforcing them.
Last year CAV's compliance, monitoring and inspections of agents resulted in just five enforceable undertakings, five civil proceedings and two criminal prosecutions.