Crackdown on rogue real estate agents
NSW Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts announced a crackdown on the real estate industry, with Operation Poseidon to investigate agents for underquoting, accessing trust accounts and deceptive conduct.
“We have educated, we have warned and now Fair Trading is stepping up enforcement activities against real estate agents doing the wrong thing,” Mr Roberts said.
“Agents underquoting, dipping into their trust accounts or operating without a licence will be subject to the full force of the law.”
Fair Trading officers will perform rolling inspections at auctions over the next 12 months.
Operation Poseidon follows snap compliance inspections at 44 auctions.
10 Agents are being investigated for offences relating to 18 properties, ranging from signage irregularities to false representations being made to the seller and prospective buyers.
Eight agents were found to have kept inadequate or non-existent sale files to substantiate the quoted estimated sale price of 17 properties.
Fair Trading officers conducted covert operations at a further six auctions, looking for evidence of underquoting to buyers and overvaluing to vendors.
The operation uncovered a real estate agent operating without a licence, in breach of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002.
Real estate businesses caught operating without a licence face fines of up to $22,000, while individual agents can be fined as much as $11,000 for trading without a licence.
Mr Roberts said 59 agents have been disqualified this year and the rate of non-compliance among the state’s 23,000 real estate licensees was a serious concern.
“Consumers spend far too much time, effort and money trying to buy a property to be taken advantage of by an agent,” Mr Roberts said.
“I’m determined Fair Trading will be there with a range of tactics and penalties whenever an agent steps out of line.”
Mr Roberts said the number of recent prosecutions involving real estate agents dipping into trust accounts or failing to keep a trust account was also disturbing, with 33 agents now under investigation.
Agents face up to 10 years in prison for meddling with trust accounts
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