by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
To my mind agents particularly should be prohibited from giving buyers so much as a bus timetable, and from recommending even the local Chinese restaurant. Needless to say, solicitors and other service providers to residential buyers should also be prohibited from acting if they are not independent of everyone else involved in the transaction.
A recent edition of Australian Property Investor Magazine ( http://www.apimagazine.com.au/ ), on sale at newsagents across the country, included a case study on victims of a real estate scam. Cassie and Luke were buyers from out-of-town. They were told by a Queensland agent that the sellers of a certain property would refuse to accept anything lower than $420,000. So the buyers offered this and were pleased when it was immediately accepted. Less than a year later they needed to sell and discovered, to their horror, that the best price they could get was $400,000. Moreover, they found out that their sellers had listed the house for sale for $350,000. So Cassie and Luke had paid $70,000 more than the sellers’ (undisclosed) asking price.
Queensland’s Fair Trading Minister commented in API on how these buyers might get compensation from a Claim Fund on account of the licensed agent’s conduct. Here are the essence of my comments which API published for balance:
Wouldn’t you love an agent to sell your property for $70,000 more than you had listed it for? It beggars belief that in this case the agent was not also rorting the seller in some way.
Whatever, this sort of despicable scam can happen anywhere in Australia. Crooked estate agents are not confined to Queensland. If you have lost money as a result of being misled by an agent this way (or in any other way), every State and Territory has a government-established fund from which you can claim compensation. Whether you get any compensation, however, is another question.
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