Supreme Court dismissal 'a win for common sense'

The Supreme Court of Western Australia has dismissed a Consumer Protection appeal against a magistrate’s decision that found a Bunbury real estate agent not guilty of false and misleading advertising.

Barr and Standley Real Estate was found not guilty of false and misleading advertising by a Bunbury Magistrate in relation to two listings, but the matter was pursued by Consumer Protection through an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Speaking to Real Estate Business, Professionals - Southern Districts Estate Agency principal Drew Cary explained the situation.

“The Department of Consumer Protection in WA has been taking a very strong line against West Australian agents on misleading and deceptive advertising, particularly in the area of localities,” Mr Cary said.

“They challenged a local agency all the way to the Supreme Court on appeal. There were two charges: one related to from-pricing, and the other related to locality descriptions,” he said.

The property was initially advertised at a ‘from price’ of $2.2 million to $2.5 million, according to court documents.

The owner had said they would not sell for less than $2.2 million dollars.

The agent then changed the price from $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

“The judge said that Consumer Protection did not demonstrate that the public had been misled,” Mr Cary said.

“Someone who had been misled, or believed they could have purchased the property for under $2.2 million would have been all the evidence that was required,” he said.

The second issue relating to the locality of a listed property was a “win for practicality”, Mr Cary said.

It concerned advertising in January 2012 of a Cookernup property as being located in Harvey.

“The locality charge was a win for practicality - or common sense - because there are times when a consumer could potentially be misled by suggestion that a property is in a better location than it actually is by suburb,” Mr Cary said.

“For example, if a street divides a good suburb from a bad suburb and the house is actually on the street that faces the good suburb and you say it’s in the other suburb when it’s not,” he said.

“Or if a buyer bought on the basis that they thought they were buying in a good suburb, and made their decision solely on the basis that they thought they were in that suburb, then I would say they were misled.

“That’s not what was happening.”


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