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A booming property market in South-East Queensland has brought with it a rising number of legal disputes over how properties are presented for sale, according to a local law firm.
Brisbane-based Creevey Russell Lawyers is warning that lawsuits over misleading real estate marketing material and activities have been on the rise, coinciding with the surge in residential sales volumes and higher prices.
Creevey Russell principal Dan Creevey explained that the firm has seen an increase in complaints arising either during or after the appointment of real estate agencies to sell a property, generally involving issues being raised either by the seller or from buyers who believe the agents had made inaccurate representations to them.
“Despite the recent property boom in South East Queensland, it is important for real estate agents and agencies to comply with the requirements of both the Queensland Property Occupations Act 2016 and the Australian Consumer Law,” Mr Creevey said.
Creevey Russell lawyer Jakob Mignone pointed to a recent example of potentially unlawful marketing practices, wherein off-the-plan buyers of a newCoast unit complex had been told they would have ocean views when their apartments were completed, only to find the coastal outlooks of many of the finished dwellings were blocked by neighbouring buildings.
The firm is currently acting on behalf of the buyers who have brought a case against a local real estate agency that handled the sales on behalf of the developer.
“Creevey Russell Lawyers have recently acted for multiple lot owners who were victims of being provided misleading and deceptive marketing material by a top tier international real estate agency,” Mr Mignone said.
“The agency was engaged by a property developer for a 58-lot mixed commercial and residential development site on the Sunshine Coast. But potentially half of the building’s residents have been impacted by the disbursement of highly inaccurate marketing materials.”
He explained the misleading practices included photos being distributed to sellers that reflected the views from one or two stories higher, where the vista was not encumbered by other structures or local landmarks.
“Had accurate photographs been provided to our clients, they would not have purchased the property,” he commented.
Mr Mignone said the agency had settled out of court with two of the unit owners who had been seeking damages. Several other claims have been brought by owners, but the agency has denied their claims and refused to negotiate.