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Government accuses REINSW of ‘playing games’ as spat escalates

17 October 2018 Tim Neary

The NSW government has called the REINSW CEO out for playing games after it became part of a group calling for a review of NSW Fair Trading’s participation in the industry, and the CEO has said that the game is called “consumer protection”.

Dice, playing games

The NSW government has called the REINSW CEO out for playing games after it became part of a group calling for a review of NSW Fair Trading’s participation in the industry, and the CEO has said that the game is called “consumer protection”.

This is in the wake of reports earlier that the CEOs of six influential property groups, including the REINSW, recently requested of the NSW Premier that the government move towards agent self-regulation.

But according to BuzzFeed News, the government summarily dismissed the request, saying that it is not in the public interest, citing the prevalence of underquoting and some surveys where agents are perceived as being untrustworthy.

“With issues such as underquoting still plaguing the industry, it is not in the public interest for real estate agents to regulate themselves,” Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean told BuzzFeed News.

It also reported Minister Kean as saying: “It’s disappointing that the CEO of REINSW is still playing games, rather than acting in the interests of the NSW public or his members who are doing the right thing.”

Now REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin has responded, saying that the game is called “consumer protection”.

“And you win by providing vastly improved education, training, experience, knowledge of the regulatory environment and accountability to professional conduct,” the CEO added. 

The request is the latest in a series of mounting tensions between the REINSW and the government over the treatment of the industry, including the REINSW resigning from the government’s Real Estate Reference Group, according to BuzzFeed News.

But Mr McKibbin said that the industry is not seeking self-regulation, despite what Minister Kean is implying.

“The property services industry is seeking a relationship with a regulator who has competencies in the property services industry and who will work constructively and cooperatively with industry,” the CEO said. 

Mr McKibbin also clarified that the original intention of the request was to take the property services industry out of NSW Fair Trading’s remit.

“NSW Fair Trading does not possess sufficient competencies and experience to support [the] industry. It’s that simple,” the CEO said.

Mr McKibbin called NSW Fair Trading a small dollar value–high frequency transaction regulator.

“These transactions are not typically legally or commercially complex, unlike a property transaction.

“I buy a coffee on my way to work. I don’t need my solicitor’s help for that. But I do when I buy or sell real estate.”

But according to BuzzFeed News, Minister Kean described Fair Trading as a “professional regulator that is holding real estate agents who do the wrong thing to account”.

Mr McKibbin was also scathing of the government’s out-of-hand dismissal.

“When six industry bodies all say NSW Fair Trading is not up to the job, how can the minister ignore them?

“Former Premier Mike Baird once rhetorically asked, ‘If [the] industry wants to improve itself, then why would [the] government stand in the way?’ It’s a great question, but stand in the way they do, with great enthusiasm and determination.

“The property services industry is working hard to increase the scope and quality of the services it provides to consumers. Unfortunately, to achieve this we have to fight NSW Fair Trading and [the] government every step of the way.”

Government accuses REINSW of ‘playing games’ as spat escalates
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