JUST WHAT national licensing will eventually mean for the real estate industry became clearer in July, following the release of a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) by the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG’s) National Licensing Steering Committee.
What’s obvious though, is the industry’s continuing unrest over some of the rules being proposed. In some cases, changes requested by many in the industry to the original RIS – which was released in August 2012 – have not been made.
One such example was the push by some in the industry to keep continuing professional development (CPD) as a mandatory requirement of any licensing regime.
In the latest Decision RIS, which was released on July 12, mandatory CPD will be adjusted to a ‘skills maintenance’ approach, which would be prescribed on an ‘as needs’ basis.
A spokesperson from the National Occupational Licensing Authority (NOLA) told Real Estate Business this was a move in the right direction, with the main aim being to remove irrelevant and forced training for more productive skills maintenance.
“The Decision RIS outlines a process whereby continuing professional development is undertaken on an ‘as needs’ basis rather than requiring licence holders to undertake a mandatory number of CPD hours or points each year,” they said. “There is provision for NOLA to set professional development requirements via a flexible and targeted approach that will relieve the burden of undertaking courses purely to build up required CPD hours rather than to gain essential knowledge. It is anticipated that the property Occupational Licensing Advisory Committee (OLAC) will provide advice to NOLA on what professional development may be required in any given year.”
The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) is not impressed with the change.
“There’s no mandated CPD, as is the case in four states and territories, and no certainty over how the licensing of commercial agents will operate,” REIA president Peter Bushby said.
“If COAG continues on this path, the biggest risk is to the consumer. I simply do not understand why the needs of the Australian public have not been taken into account in this process.”
The proposed national licensing scheme will also move to have the entry standard into the industry lowered.
Should the recommendations for the final decision RIS be accepted by the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations, the required real estate entry qualification level would be lowered in many jurisdictions to a Certificate IV.
At the moment, the qualification entry level for real estate agents differs across Australia. New South Wales and Victoria require a Certificate IV.
Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory require a diploma. The Australian Capital Territory requires completion of at least 18 units of competency taken from both qualification levels, and Queensland requires 19_units of competency to be taken.
The Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW), with support of the REIA, is calling for national licensing to move to a diploma entry level across all states and territories.
“REINSW is of the view that entry-level qualifications for agents should be set at a minimum of diploma level,” Malcolm Gunning, REINSW deputy president said. “This will ensure a better prepared property professional and better protection and outcomes for consumers.”
Mr Gunning also said the REINSW has recommended a practical experience component for all certificate holders who wish to become licensed.
“There should also be a requirement for a minimum of 12 months’ work experience as a pre-requisite to a certificate holder becoming a licensee,” he said. “Practical experience is an invaluable component of an agent’s development and would give consumers the confidence to know that the competencies learnt in training have been proven and applied in practice before the agent becomes entitled to operate unsupervised.”
Meanwhile, real estate auctioneers will be required to complete just three units of competency to acquire a licence, which in many states is a considerable drop from the current required levels.
The Decision RIS also recommended that national licensing will not have any age requirements.
Once the state-based investigations are finished, the Decision RIS and state-based reports will be handed to the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations for a final decision.