Consumers ignored in national licensing debate

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The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), together with the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), has been voicing its bitter disappointment about the reduction of educational standards in the proposed national real estate licensing regime.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Licensing Steering Committee released its 264-page Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (Decision RIS) on national licensing last Friday which included diluted learning requirements in many States and Territories.

As the former REIA president, and someone who has been involved in the national licensing debate since its inception, the proposed lowering of training standards makes no sense and also may negatively impact on consumer protection.

Throughout the REIQ’s 95-year existence, one of our major aims has always been the continual improvement of professional standards and we have mainly achieved this through increased educational requirements over time.

Reducing the level of training that agents need to successfully complete to work within the real estate profession flies in the face of consumer protection and is nothing more than a blatant ‘dumbing down’ of our industry.

For example, in Queensland, the educational requirement for newcomers wanting to become registered salespersons – which is by far the most common qualification – has been almost halved in the Decision RIS.

The REIA agrees with the REIQ’s point-of-view. In fact, REIA president Peter Bushby says the needs of consumers appear to have been left out of the equation entirely.

According to Mr Bushby, if COAG continues on this path, the biggest risk is to the consumer.

He said he simply did not understand why the needs of the Australian public had not been taken into account in this process. The Decision RIS mentions consumers but then comments this is difficult to quantify and that they have been excluded from the analysis.

Also, according to Mr Bushby, what’s the point of consultation when the views of industry are not listened to? There was overwhelming opposition to the initial proposal from the real estate profession.

The REIQ and REIA want a national licensing system which requires real estate agents to achieve a diploma level for licensing, requires compulsory continuing professional development and requires licensing for commercial agency work.

We also want real estate to be moved to the second tranche of national licensing with the other property occupations so that the matters raised can be adequately addressed – something that has not yet been done.