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Underquoting? Auction results soar above quoted price guides

No comparable sales were provided for the property, but Mr Morrell said he bought a similar property around the corner for $5 million just months earlier.

He said the regulator never responded. “There needs to be greater compliance and regular checks,” he said. “It’s demoralising for those looking to buy.”

A Consumer Affairs Victoria spokeswoman said the regulator undertook regular compliance activities including auction monitoring, spot checks and investigating complaints.

She said in May, the regulator made unannounced visits to the offices of 29 metropolitan and regional estate agents to monitor compliance with Victoria’s underquoting laws and it was reviewing the material obtained.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said underquoting was not the issue.

“There’s a lot of legislation requirements that agents must adhere to and must educate their vendors about so we don’t have any concerns about underquoting,” she said.

She said low interest rates, government incentives for first homebuyers and post-pandemic lifestyle changes, were contributing to prices soaring past estimates.

Samantha Paterson is a former real estate agent who knows the tricks of the trade.

“They are quoting lower so they get hundreds of people through; it is a drawcard,” she said.

The 26-year-old, who has been looking for a house with her partner since November, is flabbergasted by the huge discrepancy between a house’s price guide and its sold price.

“Even if we give ourselves $200,000 above what is quoted we have missed out,” she said.

The pair have unsuccessfully bid on three properties in Kew and Brunswick, where they put in a pre-auction offer $65,000 above the top estimate and were knocked back.

“The regulator needs to step in and real estate agents need to be realistic about their quoting range. It is setting up a lot of buyers for failure.”

Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne said underquoting was dishonest, misleading, against the law and would not be tolerated.

“We take this kind of behaviour extremely seriously, and have introduced strict laws to stop it from happening,” she said. “Estate agents have been fined or taken to court for breaking the law.”

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