Underquoting a scourge on Melbourne market

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In ″⁣Many buyers are like lambs to the slaughter″⁣ (Letters, 8/9) it was rightly identified that real estate is frequently underquoted in Melbourne. However, an even more egregious issue is the lack of enforcement by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
I have made three complaints for significant underquoting to Consumer Affairs Victoria since May and no response or enforcement actions have occurred.
In the eastern suburbs, real estate agents are blatant in their underquoting. I have seen properties listed for auction in one price range, pass in and then be relisted for private sale $100,000 more. An especially poor example was a property listed at $150,000 less than comparable properties, which then sold for $300,000 above its price guide.
Underquoting is a scourge on the Melbourne real estate market that is distorting property prices, further worsening housing affordability and costing prospective buyers significant money and time. If real estate agents would like better community reputations, perhaps they could act with more integrity? And perhaps it is past time for Consumer Affairs Victoria to start actually doing its job, investigating underquoting?
Emily Stirling, Burwood

Accredited inspections report
Further to your correspondent (Letters, 8/8) regarding potential buyers paying for building inspections prior to purchase, why can’t properly accredited building inspection reports be included with the Section 32 statement? Certainly in the ACT this is a legal requirement, so why can’t it be implemented in Victoria?
Lindsay Cooper, Brighton East

Not acceptable practice
Imagine if prospective used-car buyers had to pay for their own roadworthy certificate for each vehicle they were considering.
Yet, as your correspondent explains, hopeful buyers seeking a condition report about their possible future home have to obtain and pay for their own building assessment for each property on their shortlist. Why?
Buying a home is the most expensive financial commitment most people will make in a lifetime – much more so than a motor vehicle. It is completely unacceptable that prospective buyers are left to do their own “due diligence” when dealing with vendors and real estate agents whose sole interest is to sell the property for the maximum price and commission. “Lambs to the slaughter” indeed.
A responsible government committed to consumer protection and fair trading would require a mandatory property report by an independent registered assessor to be included in the pre-sale paperwork made available to all prospective buyers. Why not?
Jenny Backholer, Clifton Hill

Publish reserve price in the ads
The angst caused to thousands of home buyers every weekend by the insidious practice of underquoting by rogue real estate agents could be easily stamped out by the introduction of a simple new auction rule that requires vendors’ reserve prices to be published in all auction advertisements.
Very simple, easily policed and vendors’ price expectations would be self-regulated as vendors would not want to waste their money on expensive advertisements if their own reserves were set too high, and they would quickly learn that realistic reserves are a buyer-inquiry magnet.
We would then have a totally transparent and trusted auction selling system and many more buyers would be encouraged to attend and buy at auctions, which could only be a positive for sellers, and estate agency would be a more respected profession.
John Keating, managing director, Keating’s Real Estate, Woodend


Conduit for kindness
After reading the comment piece (9/8) relating to a WhatsApp parents group, I would like to relate my experience. As a fairly quiet member of the WhatsApp group of my school Abbotsford Primary, last week I interrupted the kind flow of messages about chess club, parents supporting each other when running late for pick up, and the upcoming visits from grandparents.
My young partner had been admitted to the ICU after suffering a heart attack on his standard Saturday morning ride. With shaking hands as I typed, I told the group just in case my daughter said something at school, or in case my emotions all got a bit too much for her and she told another mum that her mum wasn’t doing too great. As someone who is not religious, reading my message back, I’m surprised that I asked for their prayers.
The messages that followed were filled with compassion. I liked each with a little heart emoji as I sat in ICU, waiting for a miracle.
Although the miracle never came, the messages that have come through since my partner’s passing have been filled with empathy and kindness. I believe the parents spoke with the principal about something that could honour my partner. I am hoping that perhaps this might be some new books in the library for the students to read, which would be the greatest honour in his memory.
To my school WhatsApp group, thank you for your support.
Rebecca Irvine, Coburg

Wrong priorities
The myth-debunking article about the pressure climate change is placing on the Great Barrier Reef’s coral diversity is much appreciated (″⁣Reef risks ‘severe coral bleaching’,″⁣ 9/8). Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life and offer medicinal properties, tourism opportunities and protection from storms and erosion: services worth $2.7trillion worldwide.
In addition to its beauty, the Great Barrier Reef offers 64,000 jobs and $6.4 billion annually to the economy.
That our government continues to prioritise the interests of fossil fuel corporations over climate solutions that would actually help safeguard our precious, life-giving reef is beyond disappointing – it’s infuriating.
Karen Lamb, Geelong

An alternative
It seems to me that many letter writers, and especially those who are suggesting a new approach to Indigenous affairs is needed, are as ignorant of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap as I was. Its aims seem to be identical to the proposed Voice. If it is not working perfectly, then why hasn’t the minister for indigenous affairs been working to improve it? Or is she too busy promoting the Voice?
Margery Renwick,

Effective move
Discussing quotas for children’s TV content, Ross Gittins’ newsletter makes the point that economists are obsessed by ″⁣efficiency″⁣, and hence regard quotas as protectionist. However management guru Peter Drucker drew a distinction between ″⁣efficiency″⁣ and ″⁣effectiveness″⁣.
Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing. For children’s TV quotas to be effective, they should be increased.
Dick Davies, North Warrandyte

PM, time to be bold
Ross Gittins succinctly explains what our country needs right now: courage from our political leaders (Comment, 9/8).
For the past 30-plus years Australia has suffered a combination of failed neo-liberal policies (privatisation, anyone?), timid leadership and aggressively negative opposition.
As a consequence the economy, affordable housing, climate change, energy security, medical care, education, international relations, Indigenous recognition and a host of other areas all require urgent advocacy and action.
We need political leaders who can articulate what is needed, be honest about the costs of reform and the courage to pursue change while withstanding a barrage of self-interested criticism.
The message for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is that it is time to be bold.
James Young, Mt Eliza

An excellent service
Your correspondents complain about the poor letter delivery service provided by Australia Post. I beg to disagree.
I think Australia Post provides an excellent letter delivery service, given the special circumstances in which it operates, with a huge, sparsely populated country to service.
It is obvious that letter delivery runs at a huge loss, but the company has been able keep the price of a postage stamp low by expanding other areas of the business to compensate, while attempting to control this loss. Privatising it would have a similar disastrous result as other very well-known privatisations that we have suffered.
George Fernandez, Eltham North

It’s all our fault
Issues of declining service by two major essential businesses have featured in the letters columns – closure of both banks and post offices. In some ways, we have done this to ourselves. We have engaged with email to the extent some businesses charge for paper bills, we use email and Zoom and the like to keep in touch with family and friends, we do our banking on the internet and using apps, we go cashless when we can or must. At the same time, we want banks and post offices to remain open for the rare occasions when we need a physical interaction.
We expect mail deliveries to continue in our huge cities in the same way as when cities were much smaller. The banking problem can be ameliorated a little by forming a group to open a community bank, and we can pay more taxes to support Australia Post.
Or we can accept that the world has changed, and we must change with it. And enough of little old ladies being disadvantaged – we are not. My friends and I are as digitally savvy as any other demographic.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

May our cups spill over
It has been suggested that if the Matildas win, there should be a public holiday. Our netball team, the Diamonds, just won the World Cup. Excuse me, where’s the holiday? If we arrange things carefully, we can win world cups in 365 events all year around and never have to work again, except for one day every four years, but on that day we could chuck a sickie.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Mad for coffee
You know you are in a coffee-loving country when somebody writes that they want the Matildas to lose so that there is no public holiday, therefore no penalty rates, and they can then still get a coffee at their local (Letters, 9/8). And people thought Australians were sports mad?
Neale Meagher, Malvern

Freeze a jolly good idea
The suggestion of a two-year freeze on rents for residential tenants (9/8) is an idea I could support. A two-year freeze on the RBA’s rate increases on my investment loans would be another idea I’d be equally comfortable with.
Owen Wells, Mont Albert North

Rights take precedence
I’m sure your correspondent quite appropriately identifies FIFA as the reason the general public has missed out on seeing the majority of the women’s World Cup games they are paying to host. Selling broadcast rights appears to take precedence over actually sharing the game.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

The price of cuts
Children with disabilities needing extra specialist assistance to participate successfully in mainstream education will be severely further disadvantaged when that help ends at the end of September. Saving those teachers’ salaries will be a costly exercise in other ways. Classroom teachers are already leaving in droves as the workload is overwhelming and constantly increasing, with large classes, disruptive behaviours, ambitious principals frequently introducing new programs, often before the last new program is bedded down, and old inadequate infrastructure.
The cost to the students will be enormous and difficult to measure in dollar terms, but do we as a society not prefer every person to reach their potential?
Marianne Dalton, Balnarring

Good decision
The new position on Palestine by the Labor Party is to be applauded (″⁣ALP hardens position on Palestine″⁣, 9/8). For too long Australia has ignored the excesses of occupation of Israel towards Palestinians, and in recent times the violence of the settlers. One needs to reflect that of the 193 states within the United Nations, 139 have recognised Palestine. Australia recognised Israel 75 years ago. To criticise Israel is not to be antisemitic, but anti-Zionism.
Judith Morrison, Nunawading

Bad decision
According to the vast majority of international experts, the West Bank is disputed territory, making Israel’s settlements perfectly legitimate.
Penny Wong calls them illegal anyway, and then says Australia remains a committed friend of Israel. With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Benjamin Levy, Caulfield North

Give him a job
For goodness sake, isn’t there someone who can give Scott Morrison a job so that he can retire from parliament?
Ian Brown, Sandringham

Thatcher, LBW Alderman
Further to clever graffiti, I remember when Terry Alderman was terrorising the English, and getting a lot of lbws with his superb medium pace bowling. Someone had painted ″⁣Thatcher out″⁣ on a wall. A wag added ″⁣LBW bowled Alderman″⁣ underneath.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie


So it seems the British government has resumed the use of that time-honoured expedient of housing unwanted people on hulks (″⁣First asylum seekers board housing barge″⁣, 9/8).
Dave Rabl, Ocean Grove

Have the British learnt nothing from sending people to hulks? Still living in the past but with the same inhumane results.
Felix Patton, Mount Martha

Britain started sending convicts to Australia after its prison hulks were full. Now the UK government is imprisoning men who have committed no crime on floating barges. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

Did the Greens’ analysis (″⁣Labor unites on national plan to ease renters’ pain″⁣, 9/8) also detail how many landlords would have been bankrupted by a rental freeze?
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Anyone who has watched Utopia knows that the opening of a sports facility by a minister is not about opening the facility but a photo opportunity for a minister (″⁣Dirty red tape leaves young netball players sidelined″⁣, 9/8).
Kurt Elder, Port Melbourne

Ballarat in my long distant youth had signs: keep to the left and do not spit!
Doris LeRoy, Altona

The irony. Having to tell machines several times a day, that no, I’m not a robot.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew

What will we do when the era is post-post office?
Kevan Porter, Alphington

In re to whistleblowers (Letters, 9/8), a courageous voice is not just respected – it’s envied.
Margaret Skeen, Pt Lonsdale

Grand finalist footballers barging down the Yarra might be able to amuse themselves grabbing some of those many lost drones.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

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