REIV Votes Against Corruption Remedy

Peter Mericka B.A., LL.BOPINION
by Peter Mericka B.A., LL.B
Real Estate Consumer Advocate
Real Estate Lawyer
Qualified Practising Conveyancer Victoria
Director Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd
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I believe that the real estate industry in Victoria is the most corrupt in Australia. This is confirmed time and again, not only by the conduct of individual real estate agents, but also by the behaviour of the peak body representing real estate agents, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV). We have seen how the REIV condones criminal conduct by providing its members with REIV prepared contract conditions, encouraging estate agent involvement in the preparation of sale offers and ignoring the growing problem of bribery and “referral fees”. As if to confirm its role in maintaining the right of real estate agents to cheat and deceive, the REIV has now voted against a measure by which, according to the former head of its own ethics committee, “…almost all dubious price manipulation practices would be eliminated“.

According to Herald Sun journalist Craig Binnie:

“ESTATE agents have voted down a proposal to stamp out deliberate under-quoting on properties being auctioned.

A secret committee ballot within the Real Estate Institute of Victoria voted nine to three against a motion that would have forced vendors to publish the prices they were willing to sell at.

The motion proposed that the REIV ask the State Government to introduce legislation requiring vendors to publish their reserve price before auction.

Complaints from angry buyers have been brushed aside by agents, the REIV and Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The former head of the REIV’s ethics committee, John Keating, said his motion was voted down despite growing discontent about the “misleading and deceptive practices of many estate agents in over-quoting to vendors and under-quoting to purchasers”.

Mr Keating, the managing director of Keatings Real Estate, said if vendors and estate agents were required to publish their reserve price, almost all dubious price manipulation practices would be eliminated.”

(Craig Binnie Herald Sun June 29, 2009)

Secrecy is at the heart of any criminal deception involving real estate. The more transparent the sale method, the less opportunity there is for the real estate agent to engage in criminal deception. As David Morrell states in the same article, “It would bring transparency to the process and, of course, real estate agents don’t like transparency. It’s not good for business.”

Lawyers Real Estate has been proving for some years now that openness and transparency in real estate sales is good for vendors, good for purchasers, and good for the community. It is high time that the government and those responsible for consumer protection began to take notice.

For an example of how an open and transparent procedure can work, see the Lawyers Real Estateprocedure for determining price in real estate sales.

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