Melbourne real estate company Hocking Stuart Doncaster, has told the Federal Court that underquoting is a “widespread practice” in the industry.
ABC News reports that Hocking Stuart Doncaster appeared in court and admitted to charges of false and misleading conduct.
The court heard that Hocking Stuart Doncaster has underquoted nine houses for sale in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs, between June 2014 and December 2016.
“Hocking Stuart Doncaster’s conduct was plainly deliberate,” Justice Murphy said. “It was intended and as apt to create the illusion of a bargain.”
In one case, Hocking Stuart Doncaster advertised a Templestowe home for $1.7 million even though the vender was looking for $1.8 – $1.9 million. The home ended up selling for $2.04 million at auction.
Hocking Stuart Doncaster faced a maximum penalty of $9.9 million but was only fined $160,000 plus court costs.
It wasn’t the first time Hocking Stuart has appeared in court.
Last year, Hocking Stuart Richmond was fined $300,000 for underquoting.
In August, a dozen South Australian real estate agencies were being investigated by SA’s Consumer Business Services (CBS) for possible underquoting.
Under SA law, those found to be underquoting can face fines of up to $20,000 or up to one year in jail.
Source: ABC News