“A dedicated task force sends a strong message and will ensure those who do the wrong thing are held accountable.”
Since May 2021, CAV inspectors have made 29 unannounced visits to the offices of metropolitan and regional real estate agents to ensure they are following underlisting laws, Horne said.
The watchdog issued 47 infractions and 151 official warnings to eight officers for undercutting in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
CAV said underselling was identified as a major concern in the recent Victorian property market survey, which sought comment on topics related to home buying. Horne said the government was reviewing the findings of the review and would have more to say soon.
Submissions from public and real estate agencies ended on April 1, but a spokesperson for Horne declined to reveal when the review was likely to be released.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Richard Simpson questioned the timing of the announcement, given that a report of the review had not been made public.
“If there’s a crackdown, that’s a good thing,” Simpson said. “But I don’t expect this to be a widespread problem, especially in a declining market, but there could be agents flouting the rules.
“I think the majority of agents are doing the right thing.”
Simpson said there were already laws in place to ensure agents value homes accurately and update price guides if offers are made on a property above the advertised price guide.
Current laws require agents to complete an information statement as part of an online property listing, which informs buyers of an expected sale price and examples of similar sales in the same suburb.
Morrell and Koren’s manager and buyer’s agent, David Morrell, was shocked by the announcement, which he considered a waste of time and money.
“Who are these inspectors, what are they going to do and what are they going to accomplish? said Morell. “I think it’s a waste of public money – they better put the money on the bar [for drinks].”
Morrell said he filed hundreds of complaints with CAV for understatement over more than a decade, but no agent was punished.
“I’ve written letters to the minister and nothing is happening,” Morrell said.
Morrell called for fines for sellers who flouted the rules and underpriced properties.
“Maybe that will make the difference,” he said.