Real estate firm fined $1.25m in price fixing case

Photo / File
Photo / File

Manawatu 1994 is the latest Palmerston North real estate company to be fined for a price-fixing scandal.

The company, which trades under the LJ Hooker banner, has been fined $1.25 million following a hearing in the Auckland High Court.

The Commerce Commission brought the charges against Manawatu 1994, Unique Realty and Property Brokers limited in 2015 alleging the companies agreed on listing costs.

Eleven real estate agencies were alleged to have agreed to make vendors pay the full cost of a Trade Me listing when Trade Me changed from a monthly subscription to a pay-per-listing model.

Unique Realty settled before the case was brought to court, admitting their role in a breach of conducting. They also paid $1.25m.

In his ruling released today Justice Gilbert said: "Participation in price fixing agreements is regarded as serious misconduct. In this case, the agreement involved at least 11 real estate agencies representing most of the relevant market in the region.

The agreement therefore had the potential to affect a large number of consumers. Balanced against this, the agreement did not eliminate all price competition, nor was this the aim, and Manawatu did not initiate the agreement."

Property Brokers Limited and one unnamed individual remain before the court as the case continues.

- NZ Herald

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