Real Estate Institute fears 2013 national licensing scheme could reduce agents' qualifications

The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) says it is concerned that standards governing the conduct of real estate agents and other property professionals will be compromised in an effort to implement a national licensing scheme by 2013.

The REIA will ask the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to agree to a national licensing system that requires real estate agents to achieve a diploma level qualification and undertake compulsory continuing professional development (CPD). The scheme would also require licensing for commercial property agents.

Under previous COAG licensing proposals the education requirement was expected to be a certificate IV course, which can be completed in two days rather than the longer-form diploma currently required in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia.

“The key to providing a low risk professional service to home buyers is through a high level of initial qualification and through compulsory ongoing professional development to maintain these standards and to keep abreast of the changing regulatory environment that agents operate in,” says REIA president Pamela Bennett.

Her comments follow the latest communiqué from the April COAG meeting, which said it had agreed on the need for a “best-practice approach” to regulating property occupations (as well as those involved in electrical; plumbing and gasfitting; refrigeration and air-conditioning occupations).

A consultation document will be released in the first half of 2012 with the framing legislation expected to be agreed to by the end of the year.

“Given the complexity of the reform, it will now commence from 2013. In the lead-up to the commencement of the reform, COAG will consult stakeholders on the options contained in the RIS [regulation impact statement] and raise awareness of the reform,” says COAG.

Plans for a national licensing system for real estate agents bringing together the disparate licensing regimes in each state and territory have been mooted since the July 2008 COAG meeting, when it was announced that there would be a new national system with a “national approach to the licensing of a range of economically important trades” including “property agents” and those with “building occupations”.

Bennett welcomed the announcement but warned against settling for a lowest common denominator outcome.

“The REIA has supported national licensing and recognises the benefits this will bring to both the industry and to consumers through improved mobility between jurisdictions and a uniform approach across Australia.

“However, it is imperative that standards are not lowered for the sake of expediency”, she says.

“The need for a high level of training and professionalism is across the spectrum of real estate transactions. With more and more individuals having an exposure to commercial real estate, either directly or through their superannuation fund, it is equally important that buyers and sellers are receiving sound support by having the sale of commercial property undertaken by licensed professionals,” Bennett told Real Estate Business.

The institute is currently working with the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council (CPSISC) to review the units of competency under a proposed national licensing scheme.

 

 

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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