Agent accused of illegal 'rent bidding' after sharp increase before open house
A Brisbane real estate agent has been accused of dodging the state’s ban on rent bidding by upping the price of a three-bedroom unit in response to “overwhelming” interest.
On Monday, Vine Property Agents sent out an alert to all of those who had registered for an inspection of a home in Moorooka. The property had initially been advertised as $470 per week, but the alert advised the price of the home would now increase due to the demand.
“We have experienced an overwhelming demand for this property and have 100 groups booked for the inspection tomorrow at 12pm with many more requesting to attend,” the email read. “The volume of interest indicates we may have priced the property incorrectly.”
The real estate agent said they therefore had to cancel Tuesday’s inspection for the apartment on Fairy Street, which is described online as a "fresh and bright" gem in a prime location.
“The new weekly rent is to be $495 per week,” it said. “This will be reflected in the marketing of the property. I apologise for any inconvenience in regards to this and we will update the internet with the new inspection times soon.”
‘It’s still like rent bidding’
One of the disgruntled prospective tenants took to Reddit to share the email. His post has since gone viral, racking up more than 1,500 reactions and 800 comments.
“That’s appalling,” one person wrote. “They are making a killing from people disadvantaged by hyper-inflated prices and no alternative housing for people facing homelessness.”
“I think that just shows how many people are desperate to find a rental, not how much people can afford,” said another. “Real estate agents see profits not people,” someone else commented.
While others suggested that raising the cost the day before the inspection was a sneaky way of getting around property laws in Queensland where rent bidding is illegal.
“[It is] probably legal doing it the way they are doing it,” one person said. “As they are not allowed to put a bidding war in for the property, they just withdraw the property and reprice it.” “It’s still like rent bidding but with extra steps.” another added.
Original price was a ‘bargain’
But some online described the initial price of $470 as “cheap” and suggested the real estate agent had got the price wrong. Some commended the agent for updating prospective tenants.
“They have gone about this better than many other agents,” one person wrote. “I’ve turned up at properties only to find that the rent has gone up $100. I would not have inspected had I known.”
Real estate agent says it didn't get the rent 'right'
The real estate agent has since dismissed any notion of side-stepping 'rent bidding'.
“[That] certainly wasn’t the case,” Mitchell Vine, the Principal of Vine Property Agents, told Yahoo News Australia. “I can see that it may look that way [but] it certainly wasn’t any sort of bait advertising,” he said.
“With 100 people, and the fact we had more people inquiring, [it] indicated that we might not have got this right so we reviewed the rent at that point in time.”
He said they were forced to cancel the inspection due to concerns around the current tenant’s privacy and safety of their belongings, and the potential wear and tear on the property with 100 groups of people passing through.
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