What the ACCC does

  • We educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.
  • We accept reports where people consider a business is doing something they shouldn’t. We use those reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t administer the specific real estate laws. These laws cover agent licensing, agent conduct, property sales and rentals. Real estate laws are state and territory-based. They come under the authority of state and territory-based agencies.
  • We don't resolve individual disputes about misleading real estate claims.

On this page

False or misleading claims about properties

Real estate agents should be honest in their dealings. It is illegal for real estate agents to mislead consumers, regardless of whether this is deliberate or not.

Real estate agents must give consumers truthful and complete information relevant to a property, including its features, location, zoning, history, the characteristics or use that can be made of the land, and the property’s price.

When advertising a property’s price, real estate agents must:

  • advertise a selling price based on either a reasonable market appraisal or what the seller will accept
  • not advertise well below the selling price to attract interest
  • not advertise below a price the seller has already rejected (unless the seller is now willing to accept a lower price).

Encouraging higher offers or bids

Real estate agents must not mislead consumers to encourage higher offers. For example, they must not:

  • advertise a property as ‘passed in’ at a price higher than what was bid at auction
  • falsely claim that the vendor has already rejected offers above what the buyer is willing to pay
  • pretend to be a genuine buyer and make dummy bids at auction.

Vendor bidding, where someone bids on behalf of the vendor until the property reaches the reserve price, is allowed. However, the auctioneer must announce that the bidder is representing the vendor at the start of the auction and each time they bid. Vendor bids must stop when the reserve price is reached.

Other real estate and property issues

Generally, real estate laws are state and territory-based and come under the authority of state and territory-based regulators and consumer protection agencies.

The real estate issues that state and territory real estate laws cover include:

  • requirements for buying and selling property, and for property management
  • building and renovation
  • renting and residential tenancies, including tenants’ and landlords’ rights and requirements
  • owners corporations, and other strata management
  • the licensing of property professionals, such as real estate agents and their rules of conduct

Consumers should contact their local consumer protection agency for more information about the laws that apply to their situation.

Next steps if you think a real estate agent has made a false or misleading claim

If you believe you’ve been misled by a real estate agent, the first step is to contact the agency to explain the problem. If the agency doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

You can make a complaint about a real estate agent to your local consumer protection agency if you think they’ve done the wrong thing or breached their license obligations.

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