If you knowingly conceal from a potential buyer a material fact about a property you are selling, you are breaking the law. This applies from 1 March 2020. For more information, view Preparing to sell your property.
Misleading conduct and representations
It is an offence under state and federal law for an estate agent or agents' representative to mislead or deceive by their conduct or representations.
'Representations' can include any verbal or written advice, advertising or other statements you make.
A property's characteristics should not be misrepresented. These include its:
- features and fixtures
- future developments and potential
You should not use photographs that give the wrong impression of a property. These include photographs that are:
- accompanied by comments or other photographs that suggest a property has views, or is close to amenities such as parks, beaches, schools, transport or recreational facilities
- digitally or otherwise enhanced to hide undesirable features or promote other features.
Representations must be accurate and complete. Silence, or not providing all relevant facts, can be misleading in certain circumstances. The right time to disclose information depends on the type of information. For example, some facts are best disclosed at the start of a marketing campaign and others when a buyer or tenant is genuinely considering a property.
'Conduct' refers to actions that may mislead or deceive.
An offence can occur whether or not you intended to mislead or deceive. It is your actions and statements that matter - not your intentions.
You should act honestly and ensure your advice and advertising describes a property truthfully and fairly.
A principal agent or officer in effective control (OIEC) is responsible for the accuracy of their agency's advertising and the conduct of agency staff. Any complaints regarding an agency's advertising or conduct should be directed to the OIEC.
For more information, view Misleading or deceptive conduct.
If you use testimonials such as quotes or other comments from clients to promote your agency’s services, they must be accurate. You must not use testimonials that are exaggerated, misleading or false. This includes:
- inventing quotes from genuine or fictitious clients
- making false or misleading comments about actual comments made by clients
- using testimonials from genuine clients that are false or misleading.
For more information, view Testimonials - False or misleading representations.
You must not misrepresent the sale or lease price of a property. The advertised price must be fair and reasonable and reflect the current market value and expectations of the client.
Any changes during a marketing campaign likely to affect the selling price must be reflected in the advertised price. For example, if a higher offer is made for a property and rejected, the advertised price must be updated unless the client changes their mind. Other interested parties should also be given an opportunity to review their offers.
Properties can be advertised for sale at a single price or a price range. Rental properties are usually advertised stating the weekly or monthly rent.
Marketing a property for sale at a price at which the property is not likely to sell, is commonly known as ‘underquoting’. For example, where the sale price for a property is less than the seller’s asking price or the agent’s estimate of the likely selling price.
For more information on underquoting - including your obligations under new laws now in effect - view Understanding underquoting.