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NSW consumer watchdog to audit real estate agents

With so many properties coming under the hammer in various parts of Australia, the onus of responsibility is on watchdogs to ensure that estate agents are accurately quoting on property prices.

It's for this reason that the supervisory group for New South Wales' (NSW's) property auction market is currently auditing real estate agents to ensure they aren't underquoting on house prices, reports Domain.

The body that is carrying out the audits is NSW Fair Trading and is going through Sydney Agents this week to then look at regional centres the following week.

Agents who have underquoted on property prices since January 1st of 2016 face fines of up to $22,000 (£11,600) and could also lose the commission they earned on the sale of the relevant properties.

New laws came in this year that are seeing agents to come under close scrutiny and it requires that the people in question be able to provide adequate documents to prove that the estimates they provided were reasonable, up-to-date and were based on proper evidence.

A spokesman from NSW Fair Trading said that an unreasonable price estimate only served to be a detriment to the consumer.

He commented: "Prospective buyers can spend money and time investigating properties based on the advertised or stated value."

President of the Real Estate Institute for NSW John Cunningham assures that the auction industry is welcoming the audit to see how it is performing under the new laws, which is a reassuring comment on the state of the auction market.

Although he added that underquoting has been seasoned practise for some in the past, he said it hasn't always been done on purpose.

In fact, it's very possible that some have been underquoting purely by accident as a result of the rising prices of property over the past two years, which has made house valuation more difficult to estimate.

Mr Cunningham summarised: "A lot of it was a stab in the dark, but the market's a lot more stable now."

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