Hamilton real estate agency's $1.05 million fine takes total penalties in price fixing case to almost $19 million

A Hamilton real estate agency has been fined more than $1 million for its part in a price fixing scandal.

The High Court has imposed a penalty of $1.05 million on Online Realty Ltd (trading under the Ray White banner) for its part in a national anti-competitive price fixing case brought by the Commerce Commission.

Online Realty Ltd was one of 13 national and regional real estate agencies the Commission brought charges against alleging breaches of the Commerce Act.

Online Realty admitted it agreed with other defendants in the case to pass on the cost of listing properties on Trade Me Property to vendors, when Trade Me changed its pricing structure.

Online also admitted unlawful price fixing by agreeing with other agencies to remove listings from Trade Me Property.

In her judgement released yesterday, Justice Patricia Courtney said while Online Realty was not a ringleader in the case, the conduct had brought a significant and lasting change to the market, with the majority of Hamilton real estate agents continuing to pass on the cost of advertising on Trade Me to their vendors.

So far almost $19 million in penalties have been imposed in the case, including $9.8 million in collective penalties imposed on the head offices of Barfoot & Thompson, Harcourts, LJ Hooker and Ray White, and a $2.2 million penalty imposed on the head office of Bayleys.

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8 Comments

So those Real Estate Agents measures clearly aren't working. Time to bring up the heat and make them fully accountable for their dishonest actions.

The integrity within the real estate industry in NZ couldnt get any lower

where do they get these agents from..

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1190...

Well no surprise there......some real bad agents out there......expect more

Trademe tripled its charges to the real estate agencies and so the big agencies teamed up and agreed to not use trademe.
A bit like if they had a union.
They have been found guilty of insider trading not because they were ripping clients off, but because as a team they took on trademe's greed.
In reality they were helping the people of NZ not get ripped off for advertising costs.
Trademe did get a fright and did lower their prices again.
The winners are the people of NZ.
There are other property sites besides trademe and the agencies boycott of trademe helped build these other sites profile. eg realestate.co.nz

Bah - do your own research, its easy to find local comparable sales using online tools now. Get a good picture of similar sales, list on TM, and take offers from people that view your house. It is EASY as. If you want someone to negotiate on your behalf, pay your lawyers hourly rate as its cheaper that RE fees.

Yeah sure you don't have to use agents. My comment was explaining what the offence was as all the previous comments were beating on the agents when they had actually done a good deed.
I used an agent a year ago and was pleased with the service and the outcome. I consider that an agent can do a better job selling your property as they are not emotionally involved. They also are able to achieve maximum profile for the property which can achieve maximum value. Sometimes being a tightarse can cost you money and give you stress.

Pull the other one. Conflating this crime with being in a union is laughable. Pray tell how they were saving kiwis by charging them for advertising on top of their usual exorbitant fee?
The truth is, all agents list on trademe, because that's where all buyers look. It's an exceptional marketing tool, in fact the only must-have, and the agents were the ones getting greedy.

I am very proud to say that George Boyes & Co trading as LJ Hooker in Hamilton was not involved in this price fixing saga. Sorry MAH your comment is not correct, not all real estate companies automatically list their properties on Trademe, in many cases the sales people pay for the marketing themselves or charge their clients. But LJ Hooker as a company in Hamilton automatically pays for all its clients properties to be marketed on Trademe. Yes it's a very good marketing platform along with realestate.co.nz which markets all real estate companies properties throughout NZ, so between both online marketing web sites buyers get to see everything on the market in New Zealand.