Online real estate listing company gives undertaking to ACCC
All Homes Pty Ltd has provided the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with a court enforceable undertaking following concerns that All Homes may have attempted to induce real estate agents to arrive at an understanding about real estate agents’ fees.
This matter was brought to the ACCC’s attention following an email sent by All Homes in 2012 to approximately 1000 real estate agents in the Australian Capital Territory and Queanbeyan region in New South Wales. The email notified real estate agents of All Homes’ commitment to restore agency fees, having regard to formerly higher levels.
The email proposed to include a notice to sellers on the All Homes’ property listing website that they should expect to pay between two and three percent of the sale price of a property for the services of an experienced salesperson employed by a full service real estate agency.
”The ACCC was concerned that such conduct could lead real estate agents to reach an understanding on a minimum price for real estate services in relation to property sales. This may lead to increases in prices for consumers or a decrease in price competition between those agents,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.
All Homes has acknowledged that in sending the email, there was a risk of inducing a contravention of certain sections of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
“This outcome demonstrates that the ACCC views all forms of anticompetitive conduct seriously and will act to protect competition in the public interest. It also reinforces that all businesses, no matter what size, need to be conscious of their obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act,” Ms Rickard said.
All Homes has agreed, for a period of three years, not to send or request information to registered real estate agents about a suggested fee, or range of fees, for real estate agent services in an area. It will also send a letter to each of the recipients of its email, notifying them of the ACCC’s concerns and confirming that real estate agents are free to set their own prices.
The undertaking is available at http://transition.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1104251