National Licensing for the Real Estate Industry is not going to proceed

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 36th meeting today in Canberra and it would appear as though National Licensing for our industry will not be proceeding.

In the Communique from the meeting it was stated:

“COAG noted that, following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme (NOLS) reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.”

” To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.”

While EAC was in favour of National Licensing, we had stated that in the proposed form we did not believe it was in the best interest of the industry or consumers. We can now look forward to maintaining the educational standards and professionalism of the real estate occupations.

In the Pipeline – What’s Happening at EAC

Welcome to 2013 and to the first edition of From the Boardroom for the year.

With the move to our new offices behind us, we are back into getting on with business and many of the changes that we implemented as part of the move are already delivering results in the way of reduced operating costs. We are constantly looking at ways we can do things better to improve our services without having to increase our subscription fees and prices. One of the biggest changes the Industry may face this year is in regard to National Licencing, as yet there have been no further developments in this regard since we made our submission. EAC continues to consult with government and other industry bodies to try to ensure that interests of Members and the Industry are protected. To view the submissions made by the various industry bodies, franchise groups and real estate practioners visit NOLA .

On the 14th December 2012, the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Professional Indemnity Insurance) Regulation 2012 was published. This long anticipated legislation requires that all licensees must be insured under a policy of Professional Indemnity Insurance in respect to the licensee or the licensee’s employer. This new regulation commenced on 1 January 2013 but will not take effect until 1 July 2013 in order to provide sufficient time for licensees to obtain suitable coverage. To obtain a quote or to check your current level of coverage contact EAC’s preferred insurance advisor’s, OAMPS Insurance Brokers on (02) 42268700 and don’t forget to mention that you are an EAC Member.

There have been several developments in regard to realestateworld.com.au. All of the listings on realestateworld. com.au are now being uploaded to odusee.com.au and we will soon be doing the same with realestate1.com.au in a content sharing arrangement which will see listings from this site uploaded to realestateworld.com.au as well.

We have also now released a mobile friendly version of the site that consumers will be directed to. Work continues on the development of a new realestateworld.com.au site and we are working towards a release date in the next couple of months. In December we had two bumper editions of the realestateworld.com.au publication with the Illawarra achieving 100 pages and the Far North Coast and Mid North Coast being not too far behind with 92 pages. While the focus these days is on the online world, Members continue to obtain very cost-effective print advertising though the support of what is their publication.

We have also now released our Agent Mobile web sites for Members. With the amount of real estate searches now taking place on mobile devices, a mobile friendly version of your website needs to form part of your online marketing strategy.

On the Red Square front, there have been several enhancements including updates to Red Square Mobile. One of the latest editions to Red Square is NSW Telephone Data, the phone data is checked against the ADMA Do Not Call Register and is updated every 30 days. For those Members on a package the telephone data is available at no additional cost.

One of the biggest developments we have been working on in regard to Red Square is the new Listing Management feature. This feature is now undergoing final testing and will be released to a select number of Agents in February for feedback.

In October I attended and presented at the International Year of Co-operative’s Conference. It was an interesting conference on several fronts. It is surprising just how many large Australian businesses, and I am talking some with billion dollar turnover, operate under a Co-operative structure. Co-operatives are distinguished from other forms of organisation by their democratic structure and the fact that capital is used to service the common needs of the members, rather than to provide individual benefit. As a result of some of the ideas I picked up at the conference this year I will be working with the Board to develop new ways to make Membership more beneficial to Members as the marketplace and industry continue to change.

Over the coming months we will be conducting some surveys and focus groups to get a better understanding of Members’ needs but if you have any feedback in the meantime feel free to call me.

All the best in the coming year.

National Licensing For Property Occupations

Practitioners would be well aware that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has for some time been developing regulatory reform for a single national licence for real estate agents. Consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and representative industry bodies has taken place at both state and national levels coordinated by the COAG National Licensing Steering Committee.

All this activity culminated in the release of the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). The content of this long awaited and highly anticipated document was both surprising and disappointing to say the least.

The RIS has, as a fundamental platform, the proposal to deregulate a huge proportion of real estate transactions on the basis that some State and Territories have inconsistent regulatory requirements for various component activities in real estate practice and that some appear to have no strong rationale for inclusion.

Practice areas proposed to be TOTALLY deregulated include:
– All Commercial activity including Industrial and Retail (sales, auctions, leasing and management)
– All Livestock sales, purchase and auction
– All Primary Production land (sales, auction, leasing and management). The recommendation is to abolish the existing Stock and Station Agents licence
– All holiday and short term leasing up to 90 days

Other significant changes proposed include:
– Buyers Agents and On Site Residential Property Manager licenses to be merged with the Real Estate Agent licence
– Abolish the Certificate of Registration requirement for Strata Managers representative
– Abolish mandatory CPD

Licence categories to be retained are:
– Real Estate Agent. This will be for residential transactions only and will include Buyers Agent and On Site Residential Property Manager
– Business Agent
– Strata Managing Agent
– Auctioneer
– Certificate of Registration for employees, not Strata.

So What Does All This Mean?
All transactions in the deregulated categories can be conducted by unqualified, unsupervised and unlicensed persons operating outside a regulatory environment. In essence NO Rules of Conduct, NO Trust Accounts, NO Audits and NO Consumer Protection. A major concern for Agents, Consumers and Regulators is the fact that property transactions worth billions of dollars nationally will be removed from the existing regulatory structure with commensurate massive impacts on agency practice and consumer protection.

The rationale behind this proposal is difficult if not impossible to understand and if implemented will change the face of agency practice, erode consumer confidence and fail to achieve the stated goals of the national licencing initiative.

In our submission we supported the option to maintain the status quo and suggested that the real estate industry be moved to the second tranche of national licencing to allow for further consultation and consideration of the issues raised in the submissions.

It is expected that submissions will be considered in November and a final outcome known by December 2012. Members will be kept informed as developments occur.

National Licensing now due in 2013

Due to the complex nature of the national licensing proposals, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) at its recent meeting agreed to revise the expected start date of 1 July 2012 to an unspecified date in 2013.

COAG has now committed to release the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) in the first half of 2012, (the clock is ticking for a June 30 deadline). This consultation document will contain the specific detail of the reforms and provide stakeholders with the opportunity to assess the likely operational impact and to lodge submissions in response.

For further information read the media release from National Occupational Licensing Authority (NOLA). Click here to read more.