2018-19 CAV Annual Report Good News For Estate Agents

By Mark Skermer, Principal, MST Lawyers

Working for real estate agents, it is easy, and some might say very common to become accustomed to looking at the issues facing the industry through the eyes of agents. A good lawyer goes out of their way to understand the fundamental principles and issues facing the industry at any given time so they can provide the best possible advice.

It is always useful therefore to get an understanding of what is happening on the other side of the fence, namely with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) as the regulator. Given that the regulator is responsible for the administration of the register, the Victorian Property Fund account and the other various regulatory matters governing estate agents, this makes CAV’s perspective an important one.

I note that CAV published its Annual Report 2018-19 (Report) last month. I encourage you to read it.

The data surrounding compliance, registration and licensing activities gives us as industry participants real insight into the volume of matters CAV considers. The Report reveals that in 2018/19 there were:

  • 4,324 inspections;
  • 90 investigations;
  • 947 official warnings;
  • 198 infringement notices;
  • 5 sets of enforceable undertakings;
  • 19 civil proceedings; and
  • 9 parties to criminal proceedings, appeals and re-hearings.1

The one area where there has been a significant reduction in action has been in civil proceedings, with the number almost half that of the previous year.

Conversely, there has been a very dramatic increase in the issue of official warnings by CAV compared to the previous year.

While these statistics include matters relevant to motor car traders and non-compliant consumer products, they have a real focus in the estate agents sector.

When one considers that CAV had over 400,000 approaches from consumers in 2018-19 alone; either electronically, via written correspondence as well as in-person attendances (meaning more than 1000 approaches per day), the low number of investigations and enforcement actions reflects very well on estate agents. This is particularly so when one has regard to the very significant underquoting legislation introduced recently. This legislation, which built on existing consumer protections, required significant training of agents (and in some cases re-training) in order to deliver on the requirements of the legislation. When these legislative changes are taken into regard, the numbers reported by CAV in its Report speak very favourably on the industry as a whole.

If you would like to discuss enforcement action or have a litigation or real estate matter which requires attention, contact Mark Skermer by email or call +61 3 8540 0200.

  1. Consumer Affairs Victoria Annual Report 2018-19