A prominent independent has rejected accusations of underquoting and will become the first business to challenge the legislation in court.
Sydney agency BresicWhitney yesterday fronted the Parramatta Local Court to plead not guilty to underquoting, three months after being charged.
A BresicWhitney spokesperson told REB: “BresicWhitney takes pride in its reputation as an industry leader and we are defending the charges. We look forward to commenting further when this matter is concluded.”
This is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, a NSW Fair Trading spokesperson told REB.
This case could therefore create legal precedent for future underquoting cases when it proceeds to trial on 5-6 November.
Due to the lack of precedent, there is likely to be more courtroom debate than usual about how to interpret the legislation, according to the Fair Trading spokesperson.
The spokesperson said that BresicWhitney will be represented by Tony Payne SC, who is chair of the NSW Bar Association.
Mr Payne was in the news last year when he defended Freya Rachael Sommerville Newman, the woman who leaked information about a scholarship awarded to Tony Abbott’s daughter.
REB was unable to reach Mr Payne for comment.
NSW released new underquoting guidelines in May to clarify what defines underquoting under the act and how it can be avoided.
The guidelines say agents must satisfy three tests when they give price estimates: they must believe the quoted price is realistic; they must be able to substantiate it; and it must reflect the expectations of the vendor.
When a price range is given, agents must believe that the property could sell for the lower figure, according to the guidelines.