Regulators bring legal actions against numerous property spruikers

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Nearly 20 property spruikers have had various legal proceedings brought against them following an in-depth examination of the real estate industry.

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) revealed yesterday 10 traders have had legal action taken against them and another seven have agreed to legally-enforceable undertakings after a two year operation by consumer protection regulators across the country.

A total of 67 education/warning letters were also issued.

OFT executive director Brian Bauer said the investigation had found it was commonplace for property promoters to behave inappropriately, including misleading investors about financial benefits and cooling off period and also pressuring people to purchase properties.

“The conduct of these promoters has been clearly designed to maximise profits, to the detriment of consumers who are given false promises and railroaded into deals that aren't right for them,” Bauer said.

“Consumers need to be very wary of agreeing to attend property investment seminars, where they'll cop the hard sell from skilled manipulators.”

While the announcement from the OFT was welcomed by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), with chief executive officer Antonia Mercorella congratulating the regulators on their efforts, one property professional thinks more should be done.

“Honestly I think the Office of Fair Trading and other agencies should be doing more,” said Zoran Solano, buyer’s agent with Hot Property Specialists Buyers Agency.

“When you consider how many people there are in the property industry across Australia, that’s a pretty small number of people to come down on and there would definitely be more than that who are doing the wrong thing,” Solano said in reference to the 17 traders who have had legal proceedings brought against them.

While he believes there are more dodgy operators out there, he said the majority of people in the profession were doing the right thing.

“Historically the real estate industry has been looked upon with distaste when really that shouldn’t be the case as the vast majority of people play by the rules.

“Those that don’t really do tarnish the industry which is disappointing.”

For Solano, the best advice he can people to stop them getting burnt by spruikers is relatively simple.

“There are some easy things you can do, if you’re dealing with someone who says they’re a buyer’s agent check if they’re registered with the Real Estate Buyer’s Agents Association of Australia and also your state’s real estate institute.

“The other thing to think about is if somebody is offering you something for free, if you’re not paying them to work as buyer’s agent for you, then how are they making their money?

“It’s probably from an arrangement with a developer or the person selling, and that means they’re going to act in their best interest, not yours.”

According to the NSW Department of Fair Trading, the 10 traders who have had legal action taken against them were opertaing in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. 

A list of them can be found here.

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