National

Vic agency fined $900k for underquoting

By AAP Newswire

A Melbourne real estate agency and its director have been hit with an almost $900,000 fine for underquoting and other offences.

Hoskins Maroondah in Melbourne's east and director Brent Peters have been ordered to pay $899,550 which included compensation to vendors, by the Federal Court.

"This outcome sends a strong message to rogue estate agents--misleading sales practices will not be tolerated," Consumer Affairs director Sam Jenkin said of the decision.

Two vendors were told their properties would sell for less than the agency actually believed they would. This meant the agents could claim "incentivised commissions" when the properties sold at a higher price.

"Underquoting is plainly unfair for prospective buyers, and as we've seen with this outcome, it can also be unfair for vendors too." Mr Jenkin said.

The vendors were awarded $17,550 and $12,000 in compensation by the court.

Between 2015 and 2016 the agency advertised 24 properties for sale at prices lower than what it believed they would sell for.

These included properties at Croydon, Croydon Hills, Croydon North, Mooroolbark, Park Orchards, Ringwood, Ringwood North, Warranwood and Wonga Park in the city's east.

The agency made false, misleading and deceptive representations about the sale of land and to have engaged in unconscionable conduct, the court found.

Director Brent Peters was also found to have aided and betted the breaches.

They will have to pay $860,000 in fines, $29.550 in compensation and $10,000 in costs to Consumer Affairs Victoria.