Real estate institutes fear mooted licensing scheme will lower standards

Real estate institutes have expressed concern that a national licence for real estate agents, due to commence on July 1, 2012, will lower industry standards.

 

Development of the national real estate licence forms part of the Council of Australian Governments’ project to develop a national licensing system across a range of licenced professions.

The aim of the project is to remove inconsistencies between states and territories and to enhance consumer protection.

Under the proposed scheme, the education requirement is likely to be a Certificate IV course, which can be completed in two days.

If this were to be adopted, it would lower the diploma requirement already in place in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australian.

Strongest reservations have come from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, where a WA Upper House committee looking into the state legislation required to meet the Commonwealth’s request recently rejecting the COAG proposal.

REIWA president Alan Bourke says on the face of it the proposal makes good sense, but if you look at the details, it will have the effect of “watering down” existing high standards and lowering the benchmark for training and for ongoing professional development.

The institute is demanding a diploma level for licensing, compulsory continuing professional development; and licensing required for commercial agency work.

Tim McKibbon, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, says industry consensus has not yet been reached on what the minimum licensing requirements should be.

But he says current entry level requirements in NSW are too low.

“You can do a two-day course over a weekend to become a licensed agent in NSW,” he says.

“Standards need rise considerably to maintain the integrity of the profession and for consumer confidence.”

REIA acting president and chairman of the Queensland institute Pam Bennett says it is imperative that “standards are not lowered for the sake of political expediency”.

"buying a house is the single biggest investment most Australians will make. The REIA is adamant that the key to providing a low-risk professional service to home buyers is through mandating a high level of initial qualification and ongoing professional development.

“The REIA also believes that with more and more individuals having exposure to commercial real estate, either directly or through their superannuation fund, it is imperative that commercial agents are included in the national licensing system.”

Victorian institute CEO Enzo Raimondo welcomes a national licensing scheme as long as it does not result in the removal or reduction of licensing requirements.

“The move to a national licensing regime is about reducing red tape and building a seamless national economy. Reducing or removing licensing requirements is neither compatible with nor necessary to achieving that aim,” he says.

Speak in her capacity as REIQ chairman Bennett says the standard of assessment and quality of training from some training providers should be examined to “ensure newcomers to the profession learn the skills and knowledge required to not only succeeds in real estate, but to function professionally and within the multitude of laws that govern our industry”.

The government is currently preparing a consultation regulation statement on national licensing for the real estate profession.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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