Posted: 6 October, 2016
Melbourne Real Estate Agent Fined MASSIVE Amount For Underquoting
Melbourne home buyers lured to false bargains by Hocking Stuart Richmond's "misleading marketing web" may have missed a chance to buy elsewhere.
That's what a Victorian judge has said in handing the agency the state's largest underquoting penalty.
The Hocking Stuart Richmond office has been fined $330,000, plus costs, for manipulating 11 house prices in the sought-after areas of Richmond and Kew between January 2014 and June 2015.
Federal Court Judge John Middleton said the serious contravention created the "illusion of a bargain" with its enticing but illusory and misleading marketing web.
"Price is an essential piece of information about the property being offered for sale," Justice Middleton said.
"Many consumers seeking to buy a home were likely to be significantly inconvenienced, disappointed and deceived.
"Some may have missed the opportunity to buy elsewhere, being lured to a bargain that did not, and was never going to, eventuate."
Hocking Stuart chief executive Simon Jovanovic said he was disappointed the Richmond office was being made an example of for an issue that affects the real estate industry as a whole.
"This is an area that agents, regulatory bodies and industry associations need to come together on to ensure the best outcome for home buyers," Mr Jovanovic said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) had sought a fine of about $750,000 to take into account the money obtained in connection with the deceptive conduct.
Hocking Stuart Richmond earned commissions of $148,044 from the sale of the houses.
The agency was also ordered to pay CAV's costs in the range of $80,000 to $90,000.