By Paul McAllister
Recently at a REINSW roadshow event I had the good fortune of bumping into Tim McKibbin who is currently employed as the Chief Executive Officer of the institute and had served prior to this appointment as the REINSW legal counsel since 2004. Whilst the hot topic of the day was the issue of under quoting reforms, I couldn't refuse the opportunity to bring up something that I'm extremely passionate about and that's the lack of education requirements to gain employment in our industry.
So why are we even talking about educating real estate agents you may be asking yourself. Well you may be surprised that even though an agent is charged with the responsibility of handling the sale of what is in most cases their clients largest asset that the education requirements for entry into our profession is extremely poor. It would shock most people if they realised that they could get a job in real estate after completing nothing more than a three or four day course.
So how is it even possible that this situation exists in a day and age where education and workplace compliance standards are so high across most industries in Australia? I don't think anyone has the answer to this question but we may be able to gleam some insights from another industry that has gone through huge reforms in recent years that has brought about a real professionalisation of their profession. Post GFC the financial planning industry was well and truly in the spotlight and many were suggesting that a lot of the problems that the country was experiencing were the result of an undereducated profession that was nothing more than a rebranding of what was once the insurance sales profession. The financial industry in Australia has seen large reforms since the GFC and increased educational entry requirements has experienced some of the biggest reforms and as a result other professionals like solicitors and accountants are starting to hold the financial planning profession in higher regard.
So back to my discussion with Tim McKibbin and it was interesting to hear from him that he holds many of the same beliefs about reforms as I do. Tim was of the opinion that change would take time and that it was imperative that the industry act soon if we are going to stay relevant as a profession in years to come.
Our agency has always had a strong focus on ensuring that we train our agents to an extremely high level of competence before they are allowed to represent our clients property sale to ensure that they can achieve a premium sales price and many other principles across the industry have similar approach but this is no substitute for higher formal education standards as an entry point to our industry. Consider what is required to gain entry to other professions such as law or marketing. A solicitor is required to complete no less than 4 years of university based education and then further workplace training that is required to receive acceptance by their professional board. I'm not trying to say that what we do is as important as what a lawyer does but consider for a moment how much is at stake. A newly qualified solicitor may be charged with the responsibility of appealing a $500 traffic fine and yet a new agent with a three day course under their belt could find themselves charged with the responsibility of selling a $1,000,000 property where the difference between a good price and a bad price could be as much as 15% and potentially cost their client up to $150,000 in lost proceeds.
So in conclusion if you are a consumer or an agent reading this article and wondering what you can do to bring about more reforms to our industry, please forward your concerns to the Commissioner for the Property and Real Estate Division of NSW Fair Trading.