Anton Kardash: “I don’t think surveys are a good quality mechanism.” Photo: Supplied John McGrath: “They are trying to cover up their desire to remove any price guide.”
Nanjing Night Net

An almighty row has erupted between property agents who want to offer price guides for homes up for auction and those who don’t, as the Queensland Government prepares to outlaw a practice that buyers in NSW and Victoria take for granted.

If the head of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, Anton Kardash, formerly the boss of Aged Care Queensland, gets his way, agents will face a fine of almost $60,000 if they advertise a price guide.

The chief executive of McGrath Estate Agents, John McGrath, believes some of the changes to the Property Occupations Act will take the selling of property in the state ‘‘back to the Dark Ages and impact negatively on anyone buying or selling a home by auction’’.

‘‘This is craziness,’’ Mr McGrath told Fairfax radio station 4BC.

‘‘This will be the only jurisdiction on Planet Earth that will ban these guides and ban discussion – no-one else is silly enough to do it.

‘‘When you look at an auction property, what you would like to know is it $600,000 to $700,000 or $900,000 to a million, so you can make some sort of educated guess as to whether it’s worth your while pursuing it.’’

Mr Kardash is facing a revolt from within his own institute with Toowoomba agent, Rob Berry, who accuses the institute of lobbying the government on this issue without the support of its members.

‘‘There’s been no consultation; no survey taken by the bulk of members,’’ Mr Berry said.

‘‘All members I know say they haven’t even been approached, this is new knowledge to them.

‘‘If if gets up, it will be repealed… we will see a mass protest against it, make no doubt about that.’’

Yet in an interview with Domain, Mr Kardash said the changes – due to be tabled in State Parliament on Monday – were simply ‘‘to tighten up and get rid of the ambiguity’’ in existing laws.

He said the institute didn’t need to survey its members to establish its position on the price guide issue. ‘‘We have three breakfasts each year and we discuss these matters with our members,’’ Mr Kardash said.

‘‘I don’t think surveys are a good quality mechanism.

‘‘If members choose not to participate in that process then unfortunately their voice won’t be heard.’’

He denied that many members of his own institute were unhappy with the plan. ‘‘Absolutely not, the only person who has complained about this is John McGrath,’’ Mr Kardash said.

‘‘Other significant members actually came out in favour of this so that’s quite an erroneous comment.’’

In an open letter advertisement in last Saturday’s Courier Mail and Gold Coast Bulletin, Mr McGrath said: ‘‘If the ban is imposed, all questions from potential buyers about price will be unable to be answered,’’ he said.

‘‘Imagine arriving at a property and it appearing suitable.

‘‘The next most important question is invariably ‘Is this property likely to be within my price range?’

‘‘The question will be met with stony silence, no comment or conversation about price can be had.’’

Mr Kardash denies this, saying that, provided the vendor agrees, an agent can offer both comparable sales and his ‘‘professional opinion’’ about the price of an individual property.

Yet Mr McGrath told Domain Mr Kardash is offering ‘‘smoke and mirrors’’.

‘‘It’s not clarifying a law,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s been quite clearly stated to us that there was no law [forbidding price guides].’’

‘‘It’s introducing a new law.

‘‘It will be illegal for an agent to have a discussion with a bona fide buyer about a price guide .. it’s a very prescribed format, upon written request, if authorised by the vendor, they can provide what the agent deems the three most comparable sales.’’

He says that in the age of information, what buyers want is a discussion.

‘‘That’s what happens everywhere else in the world,’’ Mr McGrath said.

‘‘They are trying to cover up their desire to remove any price guide by providing a formal market analysis, but that doesn’t take away the problem.

‘‘The legislation very clearly says that they can’t discuss their opinion on price, only three comparables … it’s going to confuse everyone.’’

There’s absolutely no doubt that the legislation would ban advertising a price guide for auction properties in any advertising and editorials. It would also be impossible to search for auction properties based on price on property websites such as Domain.

Mr Kardash said: ‘‘That’s up to each of those portals to deal with.’’

The Real Estate Institute of NSW has condemned the Queensland plans calling on ‘‘Queenslanders and those seeking to invest in the state must act immediately to voice their concerns’’.

‘‘It is a step backward for consumers,’’ the NSW president, Malcolm Gunning, said.

‘‘Now more than ever buyers are demanding transparency in regard to property.

‘‘To take away price guides will turn back the clock on Queensland real estate.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.