We would never have thought it necessary to protect consumers from Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, but a recent article in The Age’s “Domain Review” magazine makes it necessary for us to provide a Consumer Alert.
In “Domain Property Review”, distributed with The Age newspaper, is the following article: “How To Read The Section 32” (Domain Property Review, April 23, 2006 p.12). The article includes the following nonsense:
WHEN you inspect a property, the selling agent should provide you with what is often known in Victoria as a Section 32. This document takes its name from Section 32 of the Sale of Land Act It is also known as the vendors statement or contract of sale, and it will contain at! the information you need to know before you put in an offer or make a bid for the property.
What is so alarming about this is that a journalist, writing for a real estate magazine has no idea about the documents used in the sale of real estate. If the journalist is so ignorant, how can ordinary consumers be expected to be any more enlightened?
The fact that few consumers understand the difference between the Section 32 Vendors Statement and the Contract of Sale or Contract Note is what makes them so vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous estate agents. (Estate agents, when asked for a copy of the contract, routinely withhold the contract and deliver the Section 32 Vendors Statement only. The consumer is effectively prevented from seeing the contract before it is written up by the agent and pushed across the desk for signature before the agent’s ink has dried.)
We have seen that real estate journalists are really no different from the lawyers and conveyancers who see estate agents as distributors of their clients’ wealth.
In the past we have written about payments in the form of “kick-backs” and secret commissions in return for conveyancing referrals, and in our previous posting, “Journo Sucks Like A High-Speed Hoover” we saw how journalist seem so willing to publish from the perspective of the estate agents who buy advertising space.
When those who are in a position to misinform and manipulate real estate consumers do so on such a frequent basis, it does raise a couple of questions.
The first question is:
If a real estate journalist can be so ignorant and unable to source accurate material, why is he or she being set loose on vulnerable consumers?
The second question is:
If the journalist is not profoundly ignorant, and the rubbish being churned out is simply the newspaper’s contribution to the estate agents’ campaign of control over real estate consumers, why can’t anything be done about it?
Surely the regulators can see that things are pretty crook when consumers have to be warned about false material being published as a “How To” guide.