Real estate expert slams bill banning price guides

Australian real estate expert and the host of subscription TV show Selling Houses Australia, Andrew Winter, has criticised a proposed bill that would prevent newspapers and websites in Queensland from publishing estimated price figures before a property is put to auction.

His criticism centres on the lack of transparency for the public and the removal of a seller’s choice in deciding whether real estate agent price guides will be available to potential buyers. Under section 216 of the Property Occupations Bill, the right for real estate agents “to disclose reserve or other price” is disallowed.

Mr Winter, who wrote an opinion piece in The Courier-Mail censuring the government over the bill, told The Newspaper Works that it contained potentially beneficial features, which made the inclusion of section 216 particularly confusing.

“There are some positive things in the bill I can see, which makes this price ban element almost random; on one hand they claim it is all about getting rid of red tape etcetera, on the other [it’s about] creating an almost impossible ‘police state’ attitude to auction listings,” he said.

“The industry will get used to it of course. To be fair removing the pricing from auction listings will make an agent’s job no better no worse, [although] the public will hate it.”

Mr Winter said that trying to regulate conversations between agents and potential buyers could be a “major nightmare” for police, which he states is proof that the core responsibility involved in that section of the bill represents “a silly unworkable idea”.

Section 216 of the bill states that agents are not permitted to, “disclose to a person other than a person acting for the seller in relation to the sale – (a) the reserve price set for the offered property; or (b) an amount the property agent considers is a price likely to result in a successful or acceptable bid for the offered property; or (c) a price guide for the offered property”.

Mr Winter said that in his experience it is fairly uncommon for sellers to request that agents don’t provide expected sales prices to buyers and that negotiating and having discussions regarding figures are one of their biggest roles. Thus legislated changes to current practice will not be reinforcing or recognising the status quo, but fundamentally changing the nature of real estate negotiations and transparency.

“For me it is about protecting choice more than anything,” he said.

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1 comment

  1. As a recent buyer I would wholly endorse any move to remove the farcical and misleading practice of real estate agents publishing price guides for either auctions or private treaty sales.
    After looking at about 30 houses we discovered that none were available or sold within the suggested price guides and that at best, the guides’ top price was actually the minimum the vendor expected.
    In one instance, we offered a price at the top end of the suggested price range only to be told it hadn’t even been submitted to the vendor (not exactly legal or moral) because the agent considered it too low.
    In another instance the advertised range was high $300,00s to low $400,000s but after our offer of $410,000 was knocked back and we’d said we would offer no more the agent revealed she was aiming for $460,000.
    Price guides are only an incentive to attract buyers who are then milked for so much more.
    PS: We bought a house after the vendor accepted our third offer, which was “coincidentally” the very top figure of the expected price range.

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