Penalise rogue agents, leave auction price guides alone

Abolishing buyer price guides at auction would be a colossal step backwards for real estate in Australia, according to one industry expert.

Tom Panos, real estate coach and head of real estate sales at News Corp, was reacting to yesterday’s Real Estate Business story, which revealed NSW and Victoria may be next in line to adopt controversial auction reforms currently being pushed by the Queensland government. 

Since the story was published, a debate has exploded within the industry about the practice of underquoting and the best solution to remedy the problem.

Mr Panos told Real Estate Business that if other states were to adopt Queensland's proposed approach, it would take Australian real estate back 30 years. He said the definition of underquoting is not that a property sells for more than the agent quoted, it’s whether the agent is quoting a different figure to that which he has put in the agency agreement.

"The reason I’m unhappy with Queensland legislation is that I know buyers hate not having a rough idea on price,” said Mr Panos.  

"What would happen is the sellers of properties would lose the interest of buyers … because buyers will be turned off looking at things and not knowing whether they can afford it or not. They would stay away from properties where they were given no idea at all of the selling price. So, I think it would be against the vendor's best interests,” he added.

Echoing what CEO of McGrath, John McGrath, told Fairfax Media earlier in the week, Mr Panos said the solution to stamp out rogue agents underquoting was to come down hard on them with penalties.  

"What I can tell you is that currently the legislation states that it’s illegal to underquote, so the solution is very simple - punish those who are doing it,” he said. “The solution is that you don’t need to create new legislation, you just need to act on the current legislation.”

John Keating, managing director at Keatings Real Estate in Woodend, Victoria, who has been openly advertising a property’s reserve price prior to auction day for the last couple of years, is one success story for an alternative auctioning system. 

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