CHOICE membership

Real estate agents not listing prices

hi,

I have been monitoring the real estate market for last 5 years and within the past year or so I have noticed a very sharp spike in real estate agents not listing the price of properties.

They usually list with “Price Guide Available”, “Contact Agent” or “Price on application”.

I think the intention here is to prey on consumer ignorance of market values and deny information to the market and allow price shopping/comparison.

I wonder if CHOICE sees this non-transparent pricing as a major issue and if they are raising it with the various governments as something that needs to legislation to force agents to provide transparent pricing.

Even giving Domain and REIWA a Shonky Award would be nice.

6 Likes

It might equally be the industry’s way of dealing with the laws about under quoting.

In Vic (and similarly in other jurisdictions?) this applies

noting there are not only specifics required, but also approved templates.

Back to your premise about listing prices, never lose sight of the reality that agents work for the sellers not the buyers, and the less knowledge the buyer has and the more hype about a property, the more likely a sale will be even more advantageous for the vendor.

At least in Vic it appears the basic information has to be provided on request in an approved format, not necessarily listed.

4 Likes

And the agent as their commission will be higher.

1 Like

Well obviously and that is exactly why this industry needs to be monitored more closely by consumer groups.

Everything about the transaction is stacked to favour the vendor and no one represents the consumer (unless you hire a purchasing agent which is probably another big can of worms).

Even though the price is not displayed you can very easily determine what range it will be in by setting the min & max $ filters on whatever site you’re using, there’s several different increments depending on the amount. That’s what I’m doing. Hope this helps.

2 Likes

I would say that a substantial increase in properties without a listed price is an indicator of an overheating market.

:+1:

I do that extensively too but

  • there is no technical reason why that must work i.e. a property with no published price might sort (or filter) differently from your expectation e.g. never come up at all when you use a specific min and max price or e.g. come up at a somewhat or completely bogus price
  • this raises an interesting question regarding the underquoting laws - is displaying the property as if it is listed at a certain price a form of quoting?

Also in NSW: https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/about-fair-trading/legislation-and-publications/changes-to-legislation/underquoting-reforms

Perhaps if Choice wants to get involved at all, it should be to advocate that (state) government institute a review to see, some years down the track, whether the underquoting laws have had the desired result and/or whether those laws have had any unintended consequences.

There are multiple factors at play here.

There are the genuine eye-waterers where “if you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it”. Many of those are PoA. At the extreme end of the market it is even Expressions of Interest (EoI). Let’s put those properties to one side and consider only more mainstream properties.

Agents (sellers of anything) love to force you to make contact. That affords the agent a selling opportunity. It gives the agent market information. It gives the agent something to report to the vendor (e.g. level of interest) that can’t be judged as reliably by web site analytics.

Transparency is a tricky thing. Let’s forget about agents for a moment. Let’s say that I am the seller and you are the buyer. We are therefore directly in a negotiation over price. The government could pass a law that requires me, the seller, to tell you, the buyer, the lowest price that I will accept. However that would in my opinion unreasonably benefit the buyer over the seller. There is of course no highest price that I will accept.

The transparency that I would like to see is that all sales information must mandatorily be made public at no cost (rather than that the state government tries to monetise it i.e. make a buck by flogging the information to the highest bidder who then flogs the public’s information back to the public).

Then it is up to you, as buyer, to judge from recent comparable sales what you think a property is worth, the same as the seller’s agent will typically do.

3 Likes

It annoys me, so when searching those sites I tick the box that says “Exclude properties without a price”.
If the Agent wants to play games, I’m not interested.

3 Likes

We are currently trying to sell some property (it is large and surrounded by many domestic sized lots) and there have been no similar sales in the area for quite some years so putting a market value on it is very difficult. So we have gone down the path of asking for expressions of interest (EoI) to see what the market price might be like. EoI allow sellers to gauge the value without having to commit to a sale at perhaps a value too far away from what could be possible. So for buyers who discount properties that have EoI they might miss out on something worth their time and money.

4 Likes

It began after a change in the law says that agents cannot advertise a lower price than they really think the property will sell for nor can they tell prospective buyers a lower price than they told the vendor. Agents had been advertising one price but the properties were selling for far higher prices. the agents tried to claim this was simply because there was competition on the day which pushed prices up. That may have been true but many were deliberately underquoting to get bigger crowds at auctions hoping people would go above their budget
so they cannot be held accountable when the property sells well above the quote. A few agents were actually prosecuted for this practise.
Now agents are getting around this law by not publishing prices. If they give a dollar quote to the vendor, they must give the same quote to a buyer so no actual written quotes are given!

2 Likes

So many properties are sold by auction anyway so a price would only be a guesstimate especially in the current heated market. You are only viewing this from a buyers perspective. The agent is contracted to the seller and must act in their interests which includes gaining the highest possible price. It is up to you whether you choose to contact the agent.

Its better to monitor the sold prices types of properties you are interested in.
There are many agents who don’t publicly reveal for how much the property sold. I suspect this is because the property sold for less than expected.
It must be mandatory to publicly inform the sold price immediately after sale.

It is public knowledge but not necessarily free. You can:

  • use a web site like this https://www.propertyvalue.com.au/ which may or may not be up to date,
  • apply to the Registrar General (or whatever they are called) for the full history and pay a fee for each property or
  • subscribe to an aggregation service which is what real-estate agents do.
1 Like

Or use onthehouse.com.au and domain.com.au and get the prices for free.

1 Like

There’s a lag on all private treaty sale prices, which ever resource is used, free or paid for. Only available after settlement?

I’ve found ‘onthehouse’ useful previously with access to prior sale history. Depending on which site the marketing pics from prior sales may also still be available which provides a guide to the standard of nearby similar historical property sales.

Depending on state govt and or council there are resources that can bring up property zoning, overlays, services, and current land valuations. They can assist assessment of the value of the property, highlighting differences that affect the marketability or usefulness of a property. Hence the relative value. Especially important if renovation, additions, pool etc are part of the post purchase plans.

1 Like

A good real estate agent will provide such information to both vendors and potential buyers. They will have (and actively track) sales in theur catchment areas so that keep on top of market prices and provide sale estimates/valuers for vendors.

Buyers agents do likewise but one pays for the privilege.

The agent who sold our previous residence and a vacant block of land, and who we bought our present home through, emails an update for the property market in our suburb in whhich he is the leading agent, as well as details of his recent sales and current listings every quarter.

Very comprehensive even when we don’t need to utilise it.

1 Like

I couldn’t get either of those to give me the last selling price on a couple of trials, the one that I linked does. Nonetheless the point is this data is not exactly kept secret and there is no need to force agents to reveal it.

I have no problem with our current and previous homes and even a nearby house which was listed for rental just a couple of days ago.

The thing is you must already have a knowledge of what a fair market value is for your property.
You wouldn’t take a $1 offer or a $500k offer or $1m offer but you might know a $1.5m offer is good and a $2m offer is over the odds.

So you already have a lower, middle and upper prices in mind before you’ve already started.

So in my opinion, EOI isn’t doing anything other than helping you search for someone who is going to pay over the odds due to their ignorance of fair market value. If you weren’t looking for that kind of buyer then you’d just list it at a price you know you’d be happy with.

No we don’t have an upper or even middle, rateable value just under $1 Mill (rates based on it’s current use of Primary Production) so not going under that. Even the RE Agent has no idea. Yes I know my value on it and it is about $25 Mill but never going to get that, but realistic values for a fair return on it is just unknown, what you may do is perhaps different to what our family does. But presuming what we are doing is perhaps a mistaken view

2 Likes