Compliance, best practice must be linked

Principals must give equal weight to compliance and best practice issues if they’re to build a successful agency, an industry trainer has said.

Michael Keenan, of NSW-based Real Coach, told Real Estate Business that balancing the demands of regulators with the need to grow a business is a key challenge for most agencies.

“They’ve mixed best practice and compliance,” Mr Keenan said of some of the agencies that his company has conducted a compliance audit on.

“Our view is we should look at separation – there are compliance requirements and best practice. If you focus on compliance and not best practice, you’ll likely go broke. You’ve got to look at both.”

Mr Keenan said it’s understandable why principals sometimes take their eye of parts of their business.

“[For example], there will be new technologies come into the industry and there will be new fads, and that will be the focus for a period of time,” he said. “Social media, without doubt, is obviously changing the landscape for real estate. Is it the only thing we have to worry about – no. You can be great on social media but if you’re promoting a property that’s misleading consumers and you’re not following the compliance requirements, you’re no longer going to be in business in a period of time.”

Intergration is the key, he continued.

“The integration needs to be tight, without question we need to have best practice, compliance and, obviously, innovation. Without all those things you won’t see the business grow.”

“Generally you’ll find an agency focuses on one. They’ll get frustrated that they’re so compliant but they’re not successful. Or they’re so successful, and their business is growing so quickly like a teenager in a business environment, and they’re burning the candle at both ends … but there’s no solidness to their business, there’s no structure to the way they do things. The way one sales agent or property manager does something is not the same as the rest. You’re building a model that’s not very stable.”

Mr Keenan pointed to confusion over the filing of electronic and hard copy documents as one area where compliance and best practice can fall down.

In one agency he noted an example where an appraisal/proposal document – complete with critical information showing how the agency established the price of the property – was lost because only one copy was printed, and the original electronic version wasn’t saved before the template it was based on was used again.

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