Top auctioneer questions McGrath’s price guide position

An auctioneer for one of the country's major independents has backed the logic behind Queensland's soon-to-be implemented auction price guide reforms, criticised this week by McGrath.

Peter Burgin, chief auctioneer at Place Estate Agents, a finalist in the REB Awards, told Real Estate Business he found McGrath Estate Agents chief executive John McGrath’s comments on the state’s price guide laws "strange".

"What's strange about it is that under the new law an agent can provide pricing information on a property with the seller's permission,” said Mr Burgin.

He said this can be done as long as the consumer makes a formal request.

"This can be as simple as a member of the public seeing a property on the internet that's going to auction and ringing an agent to say, 'Look, I request the pricing information for that property'," he explained.

“If the seller has granted the authority to the agent then we can actually provide that information," said Mr Burgin, who did back Mr McGrath’s call for agents found to be engaged in underquoting to be kicked out of the industry.

Mr Burgin said the new price guide laws in Queensland mean the discussion about pricing on a property now becomes “about fact, not fiction”.

He said the best barometer for the value of a property is the comparable value of similar properties that have been sold.

"If agents research and sellers research, the agent can then have a meaningful discussion with the seller about the value of their property," he said.

Mr Burgin warned that continuing to allow agents to price guide properties is asking for trouble because "invariably people will get it wrong".

“But if you use some sensibility in establishing the value of properties, more times than not you're going to get it very close," he said. 

Mr Burgin said at the moment what's happening is agents are having “curbside conversations” with buyers, which are in many cases based on the seller's motivation and based on the wrong comparable.

"One day I’d love to see our industry, the people representing real estate agencies, where there's enough prowess to responsibly price properties going to auction, but I don’t believe we’re in that situation yet," he said. 

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