Solving a problem with a real estate agency

Complaining to a real estate agency about their service can be daunting but it’s often straightforward. If you have a problem with an agent or with real estate services they’ve provided, try the options below before contacting Consumer and Business Services (CBS).

Speak to the business

Visit the business or speak to them on the phone and explain the problem. It can help to have any contracts, paperwork or receipts with you when you speak with them. Remember to keep a record of your contact and include:

  • the name and job title of the person you spoke with
  • the dates you contacted them
  • what was discussed, including what they suggested.

Contact the business in writing

A complaint letter or email that clearly states the problem and any purchase information - eg copy of the receipt - can help the business understand what needs to be fixed. This is also a record of your contact with them.

Consider using the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's interactive complaint letter to write your letter and then copy, email or print it.

Contact CBS

Online: Contact CBS

Phone: 131 882

GPO Box 1719
Adelaide SA 5001

Use our sample letter of complaint to a real estate agency (17.0 KB DOCX) to help you include all the information the business needs.

Advice and conciliation

If you have a dispute with a trader or business and haven't been able to solve your problem, Consumer and Business Services (CBS ) can act as a neutral third party, offering advice and information about your consumer rights that can help you try to resolve the issue.

CBS doesn't provide legal advice but can help if:

  • your claim isn't currently being heard in court
  • the work was done in South Australia
  • products or services were advertised or bought in South Australia
  • the work or products were for personal use.

CBS may be limited or unable to help if:

  • the matter relates to a vehicle purchased at auction or by private sale
  • the product was purchased at an auction
  • the matter has been heard in court
  • another agency has already attempted to assist
  • the dispute is between two businesses
  • there's limited evidence to support a claim.

Contact the CBS - Advice and Conciliation team on 131 882.

Working with CBS to solve a problem

Depending on the complexity of a dispute, advice may need to be given over multiple calls. You'll be provided a reference number at the time of your first call. You may be asked to:

  • contact the trader again
  • gather evidence or seek third-party opinions
  • provide copies of documentation such as contracts, invoices, photos, or reports
  • seek legal advice.

The business needs to be willing, but most problems can be solved through your communication with them.


If you haven’t been able to resolve a dispute, CBS may be able to act as a neutral third party in an attempt to resolve the issue through conciliation.

CBS will speak to the trader to discuss the issues and attempt to reach an amicable resolution between the parties.

Compulsory conciliation conferences

CBS can require a trader to participate in a compulsory conciliation conference to try to solve the problem rather than going to court.

Not all matters are suited for a conciliation conference. CBS will consider the following:

  • how the trader handles customer complaints
  • trader engagement with CBS
  • whether there are any legal issues.

Parties must attend a conciliation conference on the date set. Another date can usually be arranged if there's a good reason. Businesses can be fined up to $10,000 if they don’t have a reasonable excuse for not attending.

If a solution is agreed it will be:

  • documented
  • signed by you, the trader and the commissioner's delegate
  • copied and provided to all parties.

An agreement reached in a conference must be obeyed. If the terms aren't met an application can be made to the Magistrates Court to enforce it.

Taking action through the court

CBS can't force a trader to provide a remedy.

CBS offers conciliation as a free alternate dispute resolution service, if the business and you can’t agree on a solution, you can take action through the court.

Civil claims aren't as difficult as some court actions but they can still be stressful and take up your time. Getting independent legal advice before lodging a claim can help you make these decisions.

Civil Claims on the Courts Administration Authority website guides you through each step of formal legal action.

Reporting a business

If you're concerned that a business is acting unethically or isn't licensed you can report a business online or call 131 882. You may be asked to supply supporting documentation and can remain anonymous. CBS will then investigate your report.

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Page last updated 19 March 2018

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Attorney-General's Department
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