New legislation to lasso ‘cowboys’ underquoting house prices

IT IS a familiar story for some home buyers: You go to an auction, thinking you are in with a chance, and the property goes for thousands of dollars more than the estate agent indicated.

Gone is the money spent on pest and/or building inspections, as well as council searches.

From this week, however, home buyers in NSW will have more protection under the law from real estate agents who deliberately under-quote property prices.

Under new legislation introduced by the NSW Government, agents can be fined up to $22,000 for not giving buyers a reasonable estimate of what the property could sell for.

Steve Leslie, the principal at Elders Real Estate Ballina, said the most important thing about the new law was that agents couldn't quote more or less than what they had written on the agency agreement between themselves and the vendor.

As for the price, "they must believe it is realistic and be able to substantiate it", he said.

Mr Leslie said some agents underquoted to attract more prospective buyers at auctions.

He said while the problem was worse in Sydney, on the Northern Rivers there were "still a few cowboys giving the industry a bad name".

"There are a couple of agents skirting the guidelines," he said.

Mr Leslie said the new measures would hopefully increase buyer confidence.

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