A re-elected Liberals & Nationals Government will introduce tougher real estate laws to help stamp out the practice of illegal underquoting targeting misleading advertising. It will be illegal for agents to advertise a property for less than the estimated selling price in its agreement with the vendor when the property is listed.

The Government will also pursue laws requiring agents to keep written records of any verbal price estimates given to a potential seller or buyer, providing clear evidence of offers received and estimates offered in a transparent and open way. We will expand the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 so that agents will be forced to forfeit fees and commissions for misrepresentations on the selling price. The laws will also be amended to require that advertisements that mention a price actually contain a dollar price or range as opposed to ‘offers over’.

The new laws will protect vendors from agents who misrepresent a property’s potential selling price in return for the vendor’s listing. All too often we hear about agents over-cooking the estimated selling price in the hope of securing a property listing and then pressuring the vendor to take a lower price. Vendors will have greater protection under these proposed reforms as agents will need to substantiate what they believe a property may be worth by providing a vendor with comparable selling price data for similar properties.

Agents will face fines of up to $22,000 for failing to comply with the new laws. Under new laws, agents will also forfeit their commission and fees if they misrepresent a selling price to the vendor.

The Baird Government, if re-elected, will introduce legislative changes in the next sitting of Parliament. In the meantime, complaints can be made by calling 13 32 20 or through the NSW Fair Trading website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au