End of fee caps for settlement agents and valuers
· Fees charged by settlement agents and land valuers in WA to be deregulated
· Competition and market forces will keep costs reasonable for consumers
· Codes of conduct changes will ensure fee transparency and certainty
From February 3, 2016, fees charged by settlement agents and land valuers will no longer be capped by the State Government.
Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said it was no longer necessary to set maximum fees because information on charges was freely available online and other protections for consumers had been put in place.
“The fee caps for settlement agents and land valuers were imposed in pre-internet days when information on charges wasn’t easily accessible, and there was a risk that consumers could be charged excessive fees,” Mr Mischin said.
“Today, however, consumers can easily compare prices offered by different service providers online, and obtain quotes specifically tailored to their requirements.
“Industry data also reveals that, in practice, our competitive marketplace has resulted in the fees charged by settlement agents and land valuers being reasonable and well below the maximum amounts set by the Government.
“Western Australia is the only State that regulates these types of charges, which are widely regarded as being outdated and unnecessary.
“Removing the cap and deregulating fees will allow service providers greater flexibility to cater for the differing needs of their clients and the varying complexity of work involved. As with any other purchase, consumers should do their homework and shop around for the best deal to suit their circumstances before engaging an agent or valuer.”
The Minister said the codes of conduct for settlement agents and land valuers would be amended to ensure transparency in pricing, with all fees for their services to be disclosed to the client in writing prior to entering into any agreement. The new requirements will prevent a land valuer or settlement agent from receiving a fee above that disclosed to the client unless there is a significant change in the scope of the work.
“The deregulation of fees is in line with the Government’s ongoing commitment to remove unnecessary red tape for business while protecting consumers,” he said.
“The strengthening of the codes of conduct as well as stronger safeguards contained in the Australian Consumer Law means that WA consumers will be well protected when engaging the services of a settlement agent or land valuer after the fee caps are removed.”
· For more information, visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/settlement-agents or http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/land-valuers
Media contact: Rosalie Cobai - 6552 5600 or 0408 956 580
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