Contributed Article

Underquoting, one year on and has anything changed?

28 February 2017

By John Cunningham – REINSW President

New underquoting laws started just over a year ago to stop real estate agents understating residential property prices and help protect consumers. But has it worked and are consumers better off?

NSW Fair Trading brought in the underquoting reforms in January 2016 to require agents to determine an estimated selling price based on evidence. 

If a price range is used, the highest price cannot exceed the lowest by more than 10%. This is to stop consumers being told one price and sellers another so that the estimates are aligned and consumers can have confidence in pricing estimates and ultimately the eventual sale price.

Unfortunately the continuous booming market saw those hopes dashed and agents struggled to keep up with aggressive buyer activity that kept pushing prices higher and higher and ending up outside the agents price estimates.

Last year we saw 15% increases in values of property on top of 40% in the previous three years. 

NSW Fair Trading reported that over 272 complaints were received from consumers in 2016 accusing agents of underquoting. Further investigations of these complaints led to 26 fines being issued when breaches were found, a total of $57,200. 

Looking at these results, it could be said that both nothing has changed and a lot has changed. What has changed is not a reflection of the market but of some Agents not complying with the new regulations.

They reveal less than a 10% fail rate by the agents investigated and normally this would be considered a reasonable result. However from an industry perspective we believe it is simply not good enough. 

The best agents have transparent processes to ensure good communication and quality information is shared with consumers which builds trust with buyers and provides rewarding experiences.

As an industry, we have still got some way to go, but the Real Estate Institute of NSW is leading the way to improve professionalism in the industry.We are in the process of creating the pathway to get the recognition for the real estate industry as a profession.

This will help to raise the standards of ethics, education and behaviour and have positive effects for consumers and agents alike.