An estate agency trading in Epping and its directors - including the officer in effective control (OIEC) - may not be able to retain commission on certain transactions, after acknowledging they breached the state’s estate agent laws. They have also agreed to pay $5,000 into the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.
In November 2017 and March 2018, our inspectors visited Josdan-Bel Pty Ltd (ACN: 081 076 066) – which trades as Ray White Epping – to obtain documents relating to property sales and marketing.
As a result of subsequent investigations, the company and its directors Geraldo (Jerry) Papaluca, 62, of Bundoora and Daniel (Danny) Zanella, 52, of Eaglemont (also the OIEC) offered an enforceable undertaking, accepted by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, acknowledging that they:
- in relation to some sale authorities:
- included commission amounts that were not calculated against the reserve amount or any other relevant amount, including the estimated selling price (ESP) range set out in the engagement or appointment
- did not include the agent’s estimated selling price (ESP)
- included an ESP range of more than 10 per cent
- did not include details of costs that the vendor would have to pay
- published some statements of information (SOIs) on the company website that:
- did not specify the correct type of property a median selling price related to. For example, in some instances the median price related to a house, whereas the property for sale was an apartment
- used an end date that was more than six months old, in calculating a median price, before the SOI was prepared, or
- included information about comparable properties that was not completed correctly. For example, the SOI would declare that there were three comparable properties, although no actual data was shown; or that there were fewer than three comparable properties sold in the previous six months and within two kilometres, when this was not the case.
The breaches relate to 29 property sales across various suburbs, mostly in Melbourne’s north and northeast, including Doreen, Epping, Kalkallo, Mernda, Mill Park, Preston, South Morang, Thomastown, Viewbank and Wollert.
As well as the $5,000 payment, the company, Mr Zanella and Mr Papaluca have agreed to:
- send a copy of the undertaking to some affected vendors within 60 days of the undertaking’s start date. Among other things, they must advise those vendors affected by the company’s commission-related breaches:
- that the company may not be entitled to sue for, or recover or retain commission relating to those transactions, and
- how they can make further enquiries or lodge a complaint.
- implement a compliance program within three months of the undertaking’s start date, and maintain it for three years
- display a public notice stating that the company did the wrong thing, at or near the reception desk of every existing or new premises where the company conducts real estate services. The notice must be displayed:
- within 14 days of the undertaking’s start date, and
- for three months.
The enforceable undertaking will be in effect for three years.
Download the full enforceable undertaking
Josdan-Bel Pty Ltd (trading as Ray White Epping), Daniel Zanella and Geraldo Papaluca – Enforceable undertaking (PDF, 2.95 MB)
Josdan-Bel Pty Ltd (trading as Ray White Epping), Daniel Zanella and Geraldo Papaluca – Enforceable undertaking (Word, 153 KB)