PHOTO: Hamilton. Photo credit: Getty

Two Hamilton real estate companies have been fined $4 million between them over a price-fixing “cartel” they were a part of.

Thirteen companies have now been fined in relation to the scheme, which saw real estate agencies agree between them to pass on new costs, imposed by auction site Trade Me, to vendors.

The final two are Lodge Real Estate (fined $2.1 million) and Monarch Real Estate ($1.9 million), “penalised for their roles in coordinating the Hamilton regional response to Trade Me’s pricing decision”.

“It is not unusual for industries to experience price increases from suppliers and this case illustrates how important it is that companies avoid any discussions with their competitors on how they could or should respond to such a change,” said Commerce Commission chair Anna Rawlings.

“Cartels can harm consumers and business, by raising prices, restricting supply and changing the competitive dynamic between businesses.”

All up, the 13 companies involved have been fined $23 million.

The 11 other companies fined were Online Realty, Property Brokers, Lugton’s, Barfoot & Thompson, Harcourts, LJ Hooker, Ray White, Manawatu 1994, Bayleys, Success Realty and Unique Realty.