This has been pulled word for word but such a good and honest read!
My thoughts – Seriously are you going to cry cos you didn’t get a bid in on auction day?? Pull your socks up, do your own research (or get a buyers advocate to do it for you) and stop dreaming about buying a property that’s well out of your budget, who cares if the agent give you hopes that you might buy it – if you look at enough property you will understand the quoting system well before auction day and will spend your time on the right houses, flats, apartments etc. Also – remember that it will be you selling one day too!
LAST week’s farce surrounding the end of The Block highlighted some of the dumbest laws ever passed in Australia.
In case you missed it on the Thursday before last Sunday night’s fizzer, some bright spark at Consumer Affairs Victoria got it into their head it would be a good idea to raid the four real estate agents charged with auctioning the former renovator’s delights in Richmond.
CAV excuse was it was taking a proactive approach to underquoting – a practice that agency has been dedicated to stamping out since it was banned by the Bracks government in 2002.
(The idea was later taken up by the then federal consumer affairs minister Craig Emerson – he of the magnificent hair – who made it a federal offence).
Of course the chance to “send a signal” – as the authorities like to say these days – to rogue realtors through a massive TV show played no part in their decision to get involved. Oh no.
We can all be sure CAV treats every complaint about underquoting with the same seriousness whether it is in Canterbury or Kerang.
Alas for the consumer watchdog, instead of a PR triumph, its foray into the exciting world of reality TV ended in public humiliation after only one of the houses made it to the reserve price at last Saturday night’s auction.
And rather than showing the people of Victoria why we need it to protect us from Real Estate Agents Who Lie, CAV showed why the laws are useless. Actually the laws are worse than useless. A useless law would be one that did no harm and cost nothing to enforce.
The ban on real estate underquoting is both harmful to society and costs quite a lot of money to enforce – how much is hard to say – and to very little effect.
Consider the following from CAV’s most recent annual report. In the financial year 2008-09 the organisation inspected and audited 595 real estate agents.
No doubt some of those inspections and audits were inspired by things other than the dread crime of underquoting but as we saw last week, the CAV leaps into action as soon as it receives a complaint of the practice, so it is safe to assume that a good deal of this activity was underquoting-related.
And the outcome for all this endeavour? In a booming property market it managed to levy fines, penalties and consent orders worth $34,340 and costs orders of $7437.
Hmmm. Does that sound to you like a game that is worth the candle?
Of course it might be the case that there are so few fines because CAV has successfully stamped out the practice just as the British stamped out suttee in India, though it still seemed to be alive and well when I was looking for a house last year.
That was when the market was going up. Now it’s on the slide the greater danger would seem to be overquoting. Is the Government now going to move to ban that too?
When I was looking for a house last year I found it profoundly irritating – as everyone does – that real estate agents lied about how much they expected houses to sell for at auction.
But irritation was all I suffered. I wasn’t being “ripped off” by “shonky operators” as Dr Emerson lamented in November 2009 when it looked as though his Bill wouldn’t get through parliament. All I suffered was the time I wasted at auctions where I didn’t get a bid in.
It never occurred to me it would be a good idea to give my money to Dr Emerson or his Victorian counterpart, Michael O’Brien, to prevent me being disappointed at auctions.
But it isn’t just that the expense of chasing underquoting is so disproportionate to the harm it does – that is to say none – that makes the laws objectionable.
No, the really offensive thing about them is that they treat grown-ups as children who can’t cope with being upset.
The adult response to persistent underquoting is to learn to add the sum of $100,000 to any quote you hear out of a realtor’s mouth. The adult response is to learn that for their own reasons the guy is going to talk BS to you and to learn to discount it instead crying to mother that a mean man lied to you.
FOR the state to step in and assume responsibility for stopping real estate getting your hopes up (or rather to attempt to step in and take responsibility, because as we have seen they aren’t doing a very good job of it) is treat us as eight-year-olds.
And the really depressing thing is that far from laughing at our rulers for their forlorn attempts to ban underquoting and demanding they find something better to spend our money on – or even better still not taking it from us in the first place – most people seem to like them.
What will they demand next, a ban on people re-selling Grand Final tickets on the grounds they’re marked up? Oh yeah, they already banned that.