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.

NSW HOMEBUYERS UNDER THREAT FROM PROPOSED CHANGES TO REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY

NSW homebuyers and property investors are most at risk from proposed changes to lower current industry standards, as suggested by the National Occupational Licensing Authority (NOLA) in its Decision Regulation Impact Statement – Proposal for National Licensing for Property Occupations (DRIS), the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) reveals in its official response to Government.

The proposal to reduce or remove the education and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements for real estate agents will put consumers at greater risk from inadequately trained and under-qualified real estate agents.

Under the new proposal, consumers in NSW would lose the assurance offered by mandatory CPD – an ongoing education requirement that is designed to increase the knowledge and skills of those working in the real estate industry and ensure high professional standards are maintained.

“The proposal fails to take into account the importance of consumer protection and the integral role played by Continuing Professional Development in our ever changing industry.

“Buying a property is the biggest investment people make, and this should be undertaken only with the assistance of a fully qualified and knowledgeable agent.

Mandatory CPD was introduced in Western Australia in 2007 for licensees and in 2009 for sales representatives. As a result, the average number of written concerns or complaints raised by the public to the REIA of Western Australia dropped from 196 in 2009 to 58 in 2010, representing a 70% reduction.

A full copy of the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s official response to the DRIS proposal can be downloaded at www.reia.com.au

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.