Industry leaders reveal challenges for year ahead

“Dangerous” media coverage, falling commission rates and low educational standards are some of the issues that should keep agents awake in 2015.

AuctionWorks principal David Scholes told the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) that one challenge agents will face this year will be to overcome the way in which the media covers the industry.

“Their obsession with clearance rates as the main indicator of the health of a market is dangerous for our industry,” Mr Scholes said.

“Auctions are an effective method of sale in any climate and agents must be prepared to promote the benefits, even though the media feels anything less than a 70 per cent clearance is a failure.”

Starr Partners chief executive Douglas Driscoll called on agents to keep an eye on commission rates, which he said appear to be falling across NSW.

“Although rising property prices partly negate this trend, this is something that we should be extremely wary of, especially with the exponential rise in marketing costs,” Mr Driscoll said.

Harcourts NSW CEO Mark Morrison also urged agents to hold the line on commissions in 2015.

“I think one of the biggest challenges we face as an industry is fee discounting. It is a shame to see that one of the first things agents do to get business is drop their fees,” Mr Morrison said.

REINSW chief executive Tim McKibbin said the industry needed to focus on lifting educational standards this year.

“It’s insulting that there are still providers in the market advertising courses as short as just two days that purport to prepare entrants to deliver the services of a competent agent,” Mr McKibbin said.

“It’s time for the profession to stand up under a united banner and push for education standards that equip entrants to the profession with the knowledge and skills they need to deliver a quality service to consumers.”

Morton & Morton managing director Ewan Morton said agents also need to deliver education, by making clients understand the value they provide.

“I read a recent consumer study that said real estate agents were ranked only marginally more trustworthy than door-to-door salespeople and politicians,” Mr Morton said.

“As an industry, I think we need to work on changing that perception.”

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