Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Underquoting Prohibition) Bill 2015

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [4.51 p.m.]: I support the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Underquoting Prohibition) Bill 2015. For thousands of families around New South Wales, the biggest investment they will ever make is the family home. Home ownership is part of the Australian culture and it is a cornerstone of the New South Wales economy. The bill will apply to every one of the millions of homes that will eventually change hands in New South Wales. If passed, it will iron out the creases that plague the New South Wales real estate industry; that needs to happen. It will hold real estate agents to account to ensure the highest standards of transparency and fairness for transactions that can involve millions of dollars per home.

The bill does this by introducing a mandate that agents provide evidence to support their selling price estimate, which will be stated in the agency agreement. Furthermore, this bill will ban advertisements that mislead potential homebuyers with words such as "offers above" and "offers over". Gone will be the days of deliberately undervaluing homes to lure in buyers who are not willing or able to spend more than what they planned. The regulator will also have the power to fine agents up to $22,000 for breaches of this law. Finally, the regulator will have some teeth to make sure that the law is followed.

However, there is concern about the bill as it does little to provide resources to NSW Fair Trading to monitor and enforce these measures. The Baird Government must ensure that Fair Trading has the resources it needs to rigorously enforce the new regulations. I represent the electoral district of Prospect, an area that thousands of families such as my own have decided to call home. Many thousands of people are still looking to buy a home in Prospect and make the brave move to weather the challenges of high property values and a mortgage. The people of Western Sydney do not need misleading real estate agents.

These people who are misled are not professional real estate investors. They are not buying a home to make a profit; they are simply looking for a place to call home and to raise their family. They are making the biggest investment they will ever make and they will spend decades paying off a mortgage that is often valued at twice the worth of the house. We have a responsibility to protect these people. These people should not be ripped off. It is therefore essential that a strict liability upon real estate agents be introduced so that these rigorous, yet fair, new rules are properly enforced. The Government must not back down from this change. Those breaking the law and taking advantage of new home owners should not be able to escape the law.

Considering the value of properties and the enormous commissions that agents are set to gain, a $22,000 penalty is fair, as is the forfeiture of any commissions or fees from such a sale. It is important in that regard that there be an easily accessible process for complainants to report agents who breach the new law. That is why I reiterate the need for the Government to ensure that Fair Trading is adequately resourced to be able to rigorously enforce the new provisions. I commend this bill to the House.

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