The state government has announced a review of Victoria’s property laws, including those covering prices and conduct of real estate agents, on the cusp of the peak spring selling season.

The main acts that cover real estate transactions will be scrutinised, as buyers’ tensions simmer around suspicions of underquoting, rocketing auction prices and the presence of international buyers in the market.

The laws covering estate agents, land sales, conveyancing and owners corporations are outdated and need to be modernised to avoid inconsistencies, according to the Andrews Government.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said in a statement that the three broad areas of review will include land and real estate sales, the powers and functions of owners corporations, and licensed agents and owners corporation managers.

The public will be invited to comment on how the laws can be improved.

Of the four acts that will come under review, the Sale of Land Act is 52 years old and the Real Estate Agents Act was introduced in 1980.

Rules around agents giving price guides and estimates to prospective buyers and sellers is covered in the Real Estate Agents Act.

Buyers advocate Mal James said the current laws were working well, save for some issues around under quoting.

A more pressing issue than pulling agents into line was offshore buyers and their impact on young people trying to enter the property market, Mr James said.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Enzo Raimondo said the review was timely.

“Certainly in the last decade there has been enormous change in the property sector in terms of new technology and business processes, which will need to be considered in light of the review and the way the industry conducts itself compared to how it has in the past,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Consumer Affairs Victoria said the review was proposed to ensure the acts “meet the needs of the modern market”.

“As the older Acts were introduced at a time that pre-dated modern drafting techniques, they lack clearly-stated purposes by which we can measure their effectiveness. They have also both suffered from the passage of time, and many amendments.”

The issues papers for public consultation will be released later this year, ahead of a public options paper next year.

Posted by Emily Power – Domain (Fairfax) on 21st August, 2015