29.04.2017 at 06:26
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Forget "fake news", now it's "fake properties"

As if business conditions weren't already tough enough, real estate agents are now having to compete against "fake properties".  PropertyNerd has discovered listings on several leading property portals featuring dozens of properties which do not exist. 

We discovered 181 listings on "Indura Drive, Werribee Victoria". But the street wasn't recognized by our systems and our operator couldn't locate it on Google Maps, Whereis or Apple Maps to update our database.  Our google search revealed 9 hits with this street name, some with conventional address numbers and some with lot numbers. For example, "240 Indura Drive Werribee Vic 3030" appeared on realestate.com.au with the tag "House for Sale #124916154" and a price of $372,095 whilst "Lot 204 Indura Drive, Werribee Vic 3030" appeared on domain.com.au for $491,395, ostensibly as a 4 BR home with 2 bathrooms and 2 car spaces. Other hits revealed Lot 241 on www.reviewproperty.com.au and number 213 on www.allhomes.com.au.

It turned out that every one of the 181 listings were advertised by developers. JG King Pty Ltd was the worst offender with 168 of the 181 listings but 8 other developers are in on the act, including Ozwave group with 14 listings and Burbank Homes with 9. Eight Homes was another offender. Some listings even featured names you could apparently ring with enquiries. JG King's Mr Kyle Burns generously provided his mobile phone number so we rang him to get directions to one of his listings, 238 Indura Drive. Mr Burns candidly told us that the street "has not been built yet".

We contacted Catherine Silveri of "Eight Homes". Ms Silveri also confirmed not only that the street has not yet been built, but added that it's not even in a fully established estate  and the titles won't be available until the end of 2017! We pressed Ms Silveri on where the name "Indura Drive" came from. She said the name was not final yet and had been proposed by the council. 

Listings of non-existent homes on non-existent streets are bad news for agents. These ads give the misleading impression that they represent real properties for sale:  a parcel of land available now in a precise location with a house on top. And these ads are competing with genuine listings for the attention of home buyers. A price or locality search on a listings portal will bring up these ads and potentially lead buyers up the garden path and away from listings which represent genuine properties for sale.

So what can be done about this sham? The developers who place these ads are not licensed real estate agents. They can't be prosecuted under the Estate Agents Act (Vic) 1980. So is the ACCC going to prosecute the developers for misleading and deceptive conduct like it has so many agents for underquoting? Maybe the state governments should require the developers' salespeople to be licensed agents?

By the way, you won't find profiles for any of these so-called properties here on PropertyNerd. Why? Because we don't publish untruths. Our guiding ethos at PropertyNerd is objective truth: if a property is advertised with the wrong suburb name, our systems put in the correct suburb, if there are common typo's in the advertised prices, our systems correct them. We are in the data business and our business depends on the data being right. In contrast, the big advertising portals are in the advertising business and they don't seem to know or care if their ads are full of garbage.

Do you know of any other fake listings? Please share the details with us via our contact page.

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