Understanding property prices

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Real estate pricing and advertising

Property advertising must not be misleading or deceptive. It is illegal for a seller or agent to misrepresent a property in any way when advertising or marketing that property, whether verbally or in writing and photographs.

If the advertising for a property for sale includes a price, it can be listed as a single figure or a range. Unlike the agent’s estimated selling price, there is currently no restriction on the size of this range, as long as it is not misleading.

Note: On 1 May 2017, new underquoting laws came into effect that require the advertised price to be either a single figure, or a price range of not more than 10 per cent. For more information on this and other changes, view our Understanding underquoting page.

It is illegal for an agent to advertise or advise you of a price that is less than the:

  • seller's auction reserve price or asking price, or
  • agent's current estimate of the likely selling price.

This is known as underquoting. View the underquoting information below.

An agent must:

  • give an accurate opinion of the market price of the property
  • update the advertised price if it changes during the sales campaign.

Seller's reserve or asking price

The lowest price a seller is prepared to accept for their property is called the:

  • reserve price for an auction
  • asking price for a private sale.

The seller's reserve price is usually set on the day of the auction. It may be higher than the advertised price if the seller believes several genuine buyers are interested in the property.

If a seller advises an agent of their asking or reserve price during the marketing campaign, then the agent cannot advertise the property below that price.

If a seller has not provided an agent with an asking or reserve price, the property must not be advertised for sale at a price that is less than the agent's estimated selling price. This is the price the agent estimates a property is likely to attract, based on their experience and knowledge of the market.

Underquoting

Underquoting can occur when a property is advertised at a price that is less than the estimated selling price, the seller's asking price, or at a price already rejected by the seller.

Comparing the initial advertised price with the sale price is not necessarily evidence of underquoting.

Tips

  • Research the market value of property in your preferred areas by searching the internet, attending auctions, speaking with a variety of estate agents and monitoring auction results. For more information and resources, view our Property data page
  • Use the agent's estimated selling price as a guide only. The agent represents the seller but must be fair and honest with buyers.
  • Ask the agent to justify their advertised price. They should have knowledge of the market in the area to support their estimate.
  • The seller is unlikely to set their auction reserve price until the day of the auction. The reserve price decided on the day might be above the advertised price.
  • Do not allow emotion to cloud your judgment and be realistic about the likely selling price.

For more information, view our Understanding underquoting page.

Enforcing real estate pricing laws

We regularly inspect real estate agencies and conduct reviews of agency documentation to ensure estate agents are complying with the law.

We use a range of tools against agents who underquote, including warning letters, enforceable undertakings, injunctions and prosecutions.

The action we take depends upon the impact on a buyer and the seriousness of the breach.

For more information, view our Regulatory approach and compliance policy section.

Understanding property prices video