Is this a case of “run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds?´ The Saturday Telegraph ran on the front page last Saturday -“Hammered. Property buyers stung by under–quoting agents. The Saturday Telegraph’s investigation into property sales in the past month has revealed agents are flouting laws meant to stop under-quoting as the market takes off again in parts of the city. Most under-quoting is verbal and difficult to prove – but this newspaper found at least 20 examples of properties for which final sale prices were more than 20 per cent above published estimates.”

All parties mentioned in the article have not been found guilty of this practice. This is not exactly something new – it has been going on for years and is an absolute no-brainer as purchasers can recite the names of the real estate agents who subscribe to this practice. If this annoys purchasers, spare a moment to consider the plight of agents who are not even in the ball–park. Some agents buy listings by offering vendors opinions of value that are hundreds of thousands above true market value. Strange, considering that all work off the same comparable sales data – it’s just that some prefer to “buy the listing”.

Just as interesting is that The Office of Fair Trading had received only 16 complaints for under–quoting since the laws were introduced in 2003.

In the majority of cases, when vendors advise that they have “decided to go with another agency”, the agent who lost the listing, knows exactly why. Things will be different in the future as what will happen now, is that the agents who missed out, will report the agent/agency if they have reason to believe that this agent/agency is in breach of Section 72 of the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002. This section prohibits an agent from making false representations to either a seller, or prospective seller, regarding the selling price of a property. Interesting times ahead!

The 2006 Census data has confirmed many interesting points with one of the most significant being that fewer Australians own their homes outright. Compared with 2001, the proportion of fully–owned dwellings has decreased from 39.8 per cent to 32.2 per cent. The percentage of people who own or are buying a home has fallen to 64.8 per cent from 66.3 per cent some five years ago. Twenty years ago this figure was 69.1 per cent so those two words, “housing affordability” simply won’t go away as the politicians would like. We simply need more houses! Data released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, identified that over twelve months to March 2007, new home starts fell by 0.5 per cent to 152,367. The Housing Industry Association maintains that ongoing demand requires a bare minimum of 160,000 annually. This clearly identifies why there is a need for a government body to be established so that these alarming statistics can be addressed and not ignored as they are now.

Also interesting in the census, was that with the number of Australians owning a home on the decrease, the median weekly rental figure increased 31.0 per cent from 2001. In 2001 it was $145.00 per week and in 2006 it was $190.00 per week. Absolutely nothing was done by governments in 2001 when that census report was released and identified these very concerns. These social issues demand immediate action and it will be very interesting to see if there is any response from the respective governments. Don’t hold your breath as the respective governments have classified this problem as “Not In My Backyard” !! Cheers ^__^

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