Agents must take a position on negative gearing

The major networks have set aside competitive tensions to collaborate in the fight against proposed changes to negative gearing – now it's time for all agents to take a stand.

If you were one of the 850 real estate professionals who attended the Real Estate Business Awards in Sydney last week, you would have noticed a different energy in the room. It was palpable.

The atmosphere was not thick with the rivalry of past years. This year the energy was one of warmth and unity as competitiveness took a backseat to a far more critical matter: the future of negative gearing.

Real estate has become one of the central battlegrounds of the rapidly approaching federal election.

What has been inspiring to watch in recent weeks, particularly in a debate as fierce and divisive as the negative gearing one, is how you as an industry have reacted to it.

Some of largest, most competitive networks in the country have come together, with the help of the industry bodies, to collectively rally against proposed changes to negative gearing and, more importantly, to educate the public.

In times of growing uncertainty and in an age of digital disruption, unity and collaboration will be this industry’s greatest strength.

As a collective voice, the real estate industry has argued that if Labor’s proposed policy is adopted, it will directly affect the millions of Australians who own any property, whether it’s an investment or their own home. It also affects the 18 million Australians who have a stake in property through their superannuation funds.

In addition to falling house prices, the industry believes that the knock-on effects will see jobs destroyed and government revenues fall, and may even send the Australian economy into recession.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia has been instrumental in uniting real estate groups as part of a joint campaign to raise awareness about the consequences of the proposed changes.

Those involved include Coronis, Harcourts, Raine & Horne, McGrath, Ray White, Century 21, Richardson & Wrench, LJ Hooker, Barry Plant, Belle Property, Biggin & Scott, hockingstuart, First National, Laing+Simmons, RE/MAX, Buxton, Professionals, PRD Nationwide and Estate Agents Co-operative Ltd.

But there is plenty more to be done before voters hit the polling booths on 2 July.

Independent agencies across the country have a major opportunity to educate their staff and pass on valuable information to their customers over the next two weeks.

Some agents may have reservations about discussing negative gearing with their clients, for fear of rocking the boat or engaging in a political debate. However, it could be argued that clients would relish an honest opinion from a real estate expert about one of the biggest talking points of the federal election.

Knowledge of tax policy and a position on negative gearing gives you credibility. Sharing these views with your customers is an important service for them, the industry and the future of the Australian economy.

There is a fundamental lack of understanding about negative gearing in the community. By educating yourselves and your clients about this critical issue and joining the campaign you play a key role in strengthening the profession. Knowledge is power.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the swiftness with which the REIA approved the campaign that brought the industry together (less than 24 hours, I’m told).

Mobilising major franchise groups is no easy feat, and in many respects the campaign has been a database play as much as anything else, proving the importance of strong technology platforms in real estate businesses.

All agents now have the chance to harness technology, be it CRM platforms or social media, to educate their customers about negative gearing before 2 July.

For more information on the industry’s campaign, visit https://negativegearingaffectsyou.com.

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