Associations at loggerheads over national licensing push

Australia’s peak real estate body has dismissed national licensing as “a race to the bottom”, despite its apparent popularity with agents.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia has criticised a plan by rival association Certified Practicing Real Estate Agent to lobby for a national system, after a CPREA survey showed support for the idea.

According to the survey of 5,181 real estate professionals, 87.5 per cent of respondents want a national licensing process and 91.2 per cent want a consistent educational requirement for licensed agents across Australia.

REIA chief executive Amanda Lynch declined to comment on another organisation’s survey. However, she told REB that agents hadn’t forgotten the previous federal government’s attempt to establish a “very flawed” national licensing system.

“What was proposed was incredibly detrimental to consumers and real estate agents and was a system that was dumbing down our industry,” she said.

“The real estate industry is very battered and bruised by the experiences they went through under the previous government, and there’s absolutely no appetite in the industry for national licensing.

“If you talk to the real estate institutes – and they represent 80 per cent of the industry – there’s no appetite for national licensing among their members.”

Ms Lynch said there is no reason to change the current system because it’s working.

“At the moment, the state regulators have their systems of licensing and the standards are much higher under the current systems, whereas with national licensing is always a race to the bottom,” she said.

“They always look for the lowest common denominator and lowest standards in Australia and try to make that the benchmark.”

Ms Lynch told REB that the problem with the previous drive for national licensing was that it would have locked in low standards.

Although the REIA once proposed a high-quality national licensing scheme, it now doesn’t believe that any Australia-wide system would set the bar high enough, according to Ms Lynch.

“We haven’t seen a national licensing proposal that will deliver what’s best for agents and consumers in terms of ensuring they’re up to date with constantly changing laws and regulations,” she said.

[Related: Time to offer agents a ‘genuine career path’]

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