NSW real estate agents

No prosecutions in five years for NSW real estate agents caught underquoting despite hundreds caught

PHOTO: More than 250 agents have been fined for underquoting a property’s price. Photo: Peter Rae

Real estate agents found to have deliberately underquoted a property’s price are being fined a fraction of the maximum penalty they could face, despite promises by the NSW government to crack down on the practice.

More than 250 agents have been caught underquoting since stronger laws were introduced in 2016, but not a single one has faced the harshest penalty: a $22,000 fine and the loss of commission and fees earned from the sale.

However, NSW Fair Trading is adamant that enough is being done to deter the dodgy practice, and that the smaller fines issued are getting agents to clean up their act.

It comes after a crackdown on property underquoting was announced last month amid Sydney’s rapidly rising property market, which has seen sale prices routinely outstrip advertised price guides – prompting some buyers to automatically add 20 per cent to a quoted price.

Underquoting occurs when an agent advertises a price guide below their reasonable estimated selling price, which must be included in their agency agreement with the sellers.

Agents need to provide evidence for this figure based on recent comparable sales, and the guide should be revised throughout an auction campaign as buyers indicate what they are willing to pay.

It is not considered underquoting when a property sells for more than what an agent estimated in the selling agency agreement.