Fears raised of ‘abhorrent’ real estate practice

Property data companies have denied rumours that one of them may be secretly on-selling vendor information.

Kevin Turner broadcast accusations on his Brisbane radio program that an unnamed data provider has been notifying mortgage brokers when new vendors enter the market.

The data provider discovers these people are planning to sell when an agent generates a competitive market analysis (CMA) for their property, according to the accusation.

Mr Turner told Real Estate Business that such a practice would be appalling, even though it was within the law.

“Probably the only reason it’s not illegal is because people aren’t aware that it’s actually happening,” he said.

“I think it’s up to the owner to decide who they want to contact, and if and when they want to be contacted, about their finance.”

Mr Turner said the practice of passing on information generated by an agent’s CMA is potentially even more serious because brokers could share those leads with rival agents.

APM PriceFinder and Onthehouse.com.au have denied secretly on-selling client activity data.

CoreLogic RP Data and SQM Research also told Real Estate Business that they had never conducted any such practice.

APM PriceFinder general manager Tom White said it would be “abhorrent” for a property data company to exploit an agent’s CMA in this way.

“It may not always be illegal, but it is certainly unethical and breaches the trust and privacy of the real estate industry, agent and client,” Mr White said.

“It has the potential to destroy the trust agents have built up with potential vendors and to damage a reputation that has taken us years to build.”

CoreLogic RP Data’s commercial executive general manager, Craig MacKenzie, also questioned the ethics of secretly on-selling vendor information.

“If it is happening – and I would doubt that it is – I think the transaction between a real estate agent and a potential vendor that results in a CMA report is a private and confidential one,” Mr MacKenzie said.

“The vendor would rightfully not expect his or her details to be extracted from that report and made available to third parties without their approval.”

SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said vendor data should never be on-sold without full disclosure.

“This company would never do that – I don’t care how much money is at stake,” Mr Christopher said. “We don’t intend to make money through those means.”

Mr Turner said nobody who had voiced these accusations to him had been prepared to go on the record.

[Related: Agents and consumers to receive free property data]

Update: The article originally mentioned that Onthehouse was part of the Domain Group. That error has now been corrected.

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