Barry Plant Manningham facing underquoting charges

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16 March 2024
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A Melbourne real estate agency is facing criminal charges for allegedly failing to provide a reasonable estimated selling price on an Ivanhoe townhouse.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has launched the court proceedings against estate agency Manningham Sales Pty Ltd, trading as Barry Plant Manningham, as a result of an investigation by our Underquoting Taskforce, following consumer complaints.

Charges against the agency for two breaches of the Estate Agents Act 1980 were filed in court on Wednesday 13 March. Consumer Affairs Victoria alleges the agency failed to provide a reasonable estimated selling price on two separate occasions.

The charges include that the agency claimed it could not find comparable properties that had sold in the Ivanhoe area. The townhouse sold at auction for about 40 per cent above the highest end of the price range.

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Director, Nicole Rich, said the taskforce, established in 2022, is continuing its targeted activities this year, in pursuit of agents who engage in underquoting.

Rich said her agency would continue to take enforcement action where necessary to stamp out the practice and create a fair market for residential property buyers and sellers.

“We’re committed to ensuring that buyers have the accurate pricing information they need while house-hunting’’, Rich said.

“Buying a home is one of the biggest investments most people will make in their lifetime. We will continue to act to protect buyers from unprofessional and unlawful conduct which disadvantages them.”

“This conduct also frustrates and harms other estate agents who do the right thing when advising homeowners about their sales campaigns.”

Agents who underquote risk fines of over $11,000, or penalties over $38,000, for each breach under the Estate Agents Act 1980. Higher penalties can also apply under the Australian Consumer Law for actions including misleading and deceptive conduct.

If you suspect underquoting may have occurred, you can make a report to Consumer Affairs Victoria.