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Agents, are you ready for Estate Agent Act Amendments?

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By Mark Skermer, Principal, MST Lawyers

As many real estate agents already know, the landscape in Victoria will be shifting shortly in relation to laws pertaining to underquoting. These critical changes in this area of the law cannot be ignored.

The Estate Agents Amendment (Underquoting) Act 2016 (Vic) (“the Act”) received Royal Assent in November of last year and is due to come into effect from 1 July 2017.

In the Compatibility Statement for the Bill (as it then was), Minister Dalidakis said:

“The bill will amend the Estate Agents Act 1980 to introduce new measures to address the problem of underquoting by estate agents and agents’ representatives in the sale of residential property.

In particular, the bill will require estate agents or their representatives to take into account three comparable properties in determining their estimated sale prices and to provide details of these properties, and other information in relation to the property for sale, to prospective buyers in an information statement.

The bill also requires agents or representatives to update advertised prices to reflect any change in the estimated selling price or where a written offer is rejected by the seller”.

As forecasted by the Minister, the major changes in the Act take the form of three separate heads, namely:

  1. A procedure for the notification and calculation of an estimated selling price;
  2. Statements of information; and
  3. False and misleading statements to prospective buyers regarding both the estimated selling price and any written offers received during a campaign.

These three heads of change all have one purpose, namely to set out a procedure for the identification of the estimated selling price which cannot then be misrepresented.

As many agents will be aware, these amendments come after much time and effort spent by Consumer Affairs Victoria conducting investigations and prosecutions in relation to breaches of the Act prior to this amendment. It has been a hot topic both in the newspapers and in the industry and these amendments will probably ensure that this does not change.

It is critical that all real estate agents understand how the amendments work and what further work will now be required to ensure compliance.

MST has recently offered a packaged advice to real estate agents regarding the amendments. You are welcome to email Mark Skermer from our Dispute Resolution and Litigation Team in relation to this matter or to discuss the amendments more generally or call +61 3 8540 0200.