Shirley had an ordeal with the same agency, though a different
salesperson. Partway through the marketing campaign for her
home in the upmarket suburb, Shirley realised she was being
deceived, lied to and manipulated.
In the end, her home did not sell. But worse, Shirley received
a demand from the agency for payment of $2,305 in commissions
and marketing costs.
It began when Shirley looked at sale prices in her area before
placing her home on the market. She found comparable homes
had recently sold for between $400,000 and $470,000, and decided
$400,000 was a reasonable asking price for her home.
Two sales personnel visited her home, made positive comments
about the features of the house and agreed that a sale price
of $400,000 was achievable.
Shirley says that the salesperson, 'W’, commented: "A
house of this quality in this area should have no difficulties
as the prices are going through the ceiling. I think your
price is very achievable and I recommend that we take it to
auction because this is the best method of selling if you
want the best price."
Encouraged by that response, Shirley and her partner signed
an agreement appointing the agency for three months, with
an auction to be held on 13 February.
A week later Shirley received a letter and a "Service
Guarantee", signed by W, which states in part: "We
pride ourselves in providing the best marketing strategies
and highest service possible in helping to achieve the best
results for our clients."
A series of Open Inspection days followed, with written reports
from the agency later. These included feedback from potential
buyers wishing to spend from $175,000 to $250,000 and references
to the property’s price range as "$200,000 to $250,000"
and (later) as "$250,000-plus".
Shirley says: "I was extremely alarmed ... it became
evident that the marketing strategy and advertising campaign
was obviously targeting the wrong market ... My worst fear
became reality when I read in our advertisement displayed
in the newspaper: Bidding from $200,000."
The next day Shirley confronted W and expressed her concern
that her home had been advertised in that manner. She says
W’s response was: "This marketing strategy is the
way we get bums on seats at the auction, it’s all part
of the plan to attract more buyers. This approach attracts
a wider market - it’s all under control, just trust
W also revealed that she and the other salesperson agreed,
when they had taken the listing, that the likely selling price
was $325,000. Shirley says: "I spoke to the other salesperson
and he confirmed that he and W did speak out front (on the
footpath) and discussed pricing after I signed the contract,
and as a result he wrote $325,000 on a piece of paper."
Shirley phoned the agency principal to complain. She refers
also to receiving "conditioning" letters from the
The final written report from W, following seven Open Inspections,
stipulated: "Price range: $250,000 plus. Shirley visited
the agency and set the reserve price at $380,000.
The next day the home went to auction as one of six properties
presented at an auction evening and was passed in. The property
Shirley received a legal letter demanding payment of $2,305
to the agency for "marketing expenses". She was
also advised that a caveat had been lodged on the title of
She intends to lodge an official complaint with the Office
of Consumer and Business Affairs if the agency’s invoice
for marketing costs is not withdrawn, is prepared to test
her case within a South Australian court and wishes to make
a claim against the agency "guarantee".
The HHPF has taken a Statutory Declaration from Shirley and
legal representation has been organised to help her remove
Official complaints have been forwarded to various State and
The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs in South Australia
completed an investigation into Shirley’s complaint
and recommended that Shirley pay the advertising costs demanded
by the agency. The bill remains unpaid and the HHPF presently
intends to assist her defence.