Victoria has recently pulled back the curtain on its shadier real estate dealings—and buying a home is about to get a lot less frustrating as a result.
New laws prohibiting the immoral “underquoting” of property prices went into effect on May 1, marking the end of an era of false real estate advertising. Prior to the installation of these new requirements, agents would often undervalue their listings in an effort to attract prospective buyers or perhaps create a bidding war. One famous instance involved a Melbourne mansion that was billed at $1 million less than its eventual selling price. Consumer Affairs Victoria caught wind of the dealings, initiated a task force, levelled immense fines against the offenders and set out to enact stricter pricing laws.
With these current real estate controls in place, any and all online listings and/or estimates within Victoria must be accompanied by a detailed review of three recent comparable sales as well as a median house price figure for the property’s surrounding area. Consequently, any listings that include an approximate price range must stay within a 10 percent margin, and phrases like “offers above” can no longer be used to hedge bets or con potential purchasers.
Real estate agents will additionally be legally obliged to amend their ads should circumstances change or prices shift. “Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions Victorians will make,” Victoria Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz said in a realestate.com.au interview this month, adding, “Our new laws will help ensure [Victorians] don’t waste time and money on properties they can’t afford.”
While “buyer beware” still remains a phrase to live by, those in the market for a new home can now enjoy an added layer of protection as they go about their search. As always: happy hunting.