Government crackdown on auctions

One state government has announced it will be heavily scrutinising auction campaigns during the lead-up to Easter.

According to Consumer Affairs Victoria director Dr Claire Noone, recent surges in the auction market have drawn the organisation’s attention.

“In this peak auction period, we are gathering market intelligence through online monitoring and other data collection methods,” Dr Noone said. 

“We will be watching for any misconduct during the buying and selling process - from the moment a property is advertised to when deposits are paid and held in trust accounts.

“Our staff will also attend auctions to make sure they are conducted according to auction rules.”

During the peak auction season, Consumer Affairs claims it will be monitoring all real estate advertising campaigns to identify any indicators of misleading price advertising - including underquoting.

“Comparing the initial advertised price with the sale price is not evidence of underquoting,” Dr Noone said. 

“Underquoting is when an agent misleads a prospective buyer about the likely selling price of a property for sale.

“Examples of underquoting are when a property is advertised or quoted to a prospective buyer at a price that is less than the seller’s asking price or auction reserve price, the agent's estimate of the selling price or a genuine offer or expression of interest.”

Dr Noone urged all potential buyers to take time to research the property market, especially any homes they are interested in purchasing.

Government crackdowns on various auction practices are nothing new, with various regulatory bodies across Australia conducting blitzes from time to time. In NSW, this included a blitz against agents in late 2012, while in South Australia, the government was so fed up with underquoting it introduced a law designed to stop the practice in mid-2013.

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