NSW government plans to overhaul real estate training and licensing requirements

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It will take more training than “what a budding barista needs to do to make good coffee” to become a real estate agent, under sweeping reforms proposed by the NSW government.

In a reforms paper released on Saturday, the government says it will demand aspiring real estate agents to complete seven – up from four – “units of competency” to earn the certificate allowing them to sell and manage property.

At present, it can take just $700 and a two-day online program to obtain the certificate.

Other changes include adding a mandatory 12 months’ practical experience to move up from a certificate to a licence, which allows the holder to open a real estate business.

The government also wants the ability to temporarily suspend a certificate or licence while an investigation is under way, and not be forced to wait.

“This is the most significant review in 20 years and the profile of the property sector has changed considerably over that period,” said Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello, who is spearheading the reforms.

“We need modern laws that reflect these changes and improve consumer confidence.”

The extra units of competency will focus on consumer protection and improved knowledge about relevant laws.

It is also seeking feedback on the proposal to stop developers from selling off-the-plan with no qualifications, exempting them from underquoting laws and the need to disclose material facts, such as the presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation.

Amid Sydney’s housing boom, complaints about real estate and property businesses have jumped by 14 per cent to 7341 in 2015-16, compared with the previous year, according to NSW Fair Trading.

Tim McKibbin, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, said the industry had been fighting for a decade for more rigorous training and welcomed the proposed reforms.

“It’s great that real estate agents will need to do more than what a budding barista needs to do to make good coffee,” he said.

“Property transactions are quite complex, so we need competent, properly trained people.”

He said he was aware of real estate agents who couldn’t understand planning instruments that showed what development work could or couldn’t be done, and therefore didn’t know the full value of the property.

“Their lack of training meant they couldn’t understand the documents, and there could have been big consequences,” he said.

Home buyers pay up to 4.5 per cent of the sale price of a property to the agent as a fee, which may or may not include marketing fees. And up to 10 per cent of the weekly rent can be pocketed by the agent.

NSW Fair Trading’s monthly register shows a third of the most complained about businesses in September were real estate agencies, with Raine & Horne coming in second after online tech store Android Enjoyed.

Ned Cutcher of Tenants NSW said the data showed tenants had a lot of concerns about their interactions with real estate agents and the reforms appeared “very positive”.

He said there were cases where tenants were unnecessarily taken to the tribunal because the agent was ill-informed about the laws.

“There’s a lot at stake for tenants. If there’s a disagreement, it’s not just a financial concern, but it’s about their housing and ability to stay housed,” he said. “The implications can be quite severe.”

Via The Sunday Morning Herald. Read the full article here.