National real estate licensing plans from Canberra aren't being well-received by all

Why the national licensing scheme still needs work

You treat being a real estate agent as a profession. You know that a licensed real estate agent, with the proper training and know-how, is the best person to orchestrate the sale of a home. And so do your peers in the industry.

That’s why so many agents are up in arms about the proposed new national licensing scheme.

The Federal government’s plan is to implement an Australia-wide real estate license, unifying real estate industries in each state and making it possible for agents to operate across the nation with minimal hassle. It’s a noble goal.

But it still needs some work.

As a former real estate agent myself, talking to people in the industry at the REIWA conference last week surfaced a couple of issues with the new scheme – big ones.

First, the new scheme proposes to remove the need for commercial agents to operate under a license. The idea is that those people who buy commercial property are savvy, well-informed property investors who can do their own due diligence, have their own insurance and hire their own lawyers.

But commercial property is not the exclusive realm of the rich or clever. A quick look at some of the commercial properties for sale around our office in Maddington reveals some small factory units selling for as little as $279,000.

Take into consideration that the buyer of that property might be an average Joe looking to start a small lathing business, or a “mum and pop investor” looking to secure a nest egg, and the idea of abolishing the licensing that protects these buyers becomes an absurdity.

The new scheme also threatens to seriously lower education standards in the industry. Real estate agents would only be required to hold a Cert IV (a qualification that only takes two days to complete), and the requirement to carry out CPD would be abolished completely.

Once we’ve set the bar, why aim for something lower? Since introducing CPD REIWA reports a 56% fall in the number of complaints by consumers of real estate services. Clearly, ongoing education benefits consumers and no doubt helps to build confidence in the industry.

It also has flow-on effects on other areas. Over eight years directing Residential Settlements, I’ve become well aware that a well-written contract is so often the difference between a smooth settlement and a bumpy one (just have a skim through our case studies). And a trained, informed agent writes better contracts than a careless one.

No wonder so many West Australian real estate professionals are voicing their unease about the proposed changes. COAG is going behind closed doors to complete the laws, so time will tell if industry voices have been heard.

In the meantime, what is your take on the proposed licensing reforms? Will the changes hurt or help the real estate industry? Share you thoughts in the comments.

Image by Alex Kesselaar via Flickr.