National licensing won't benefit the real estate industry or consumers, and any move towards federally-regulated property laws would strip the states of much needed flexibility to adjust to their respective economic situations, the head of a major franchise network has claimed.
Stockdale & Leggo CEO Peter Thomas said in an opinion piece to be published in the November issue of Real Estate Business that while national licensing sounds good in principle, the mooted benefits of such a move weren’t evident to him.
“The current state-specific system works exceedingly well,” Mr Thomas said.
“In contrast, this radical one-fits-all approach brings little, if any, benefit to anyone. Instead, it opens a Pandora’s box of problems.”
Mr Thomas, who heads a network or more than 80 mainly Victoria-based offices, said states that required Diploma level education for licensing would see their standards eroded by the move towards a Certificate IV licence requirement.
“Not only would educational standards go backwards in the likely event that the lowest common denominator were adopted, further study in relation to state-specific laws would also be required,” he said.
“An equally untenable option would be to systemise real estate laws across the country in what would become a federally-regulated industry,” he continued. “It simply wouldn’t work.”
“Australia’s diversity and each state’s unique needs and property market at any given time require suitably designed, responsive laws that best serve consumers, the industry, and the country.”
“At the most basic level, even the nation’s extremes in climate and risk of natural disasters demand a unique approach, not only in regard to building legislation, but also in terms of both responsive and proactive government incentives to either support or stimulate certain sectors.
“States’ varying industries, economies, and shifting trends, whether in regard to employment, mobility, or population demographics, also preclude a blanket approach to property legislation.”
The proposed shift towards national licensing does not include plans to introduce federal real estate laws.
Mr Thomas also took aim at plans to remove licensing requirements for commercial real estate agents.
“As pointed out by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), which strongly opposes current proposals and with very good reason, such a move increases consumer risk by stripping buyers and sellers of non-residential properties the level of protection they get by using a licensed real estate agent,” he said.
“The current system works well and isn’t creating any apparent problems. The introduction of national licensing, however, would create more problems than it solves. Who needs it?"
Mr Thomas' comments come not long after the government took submissions from the industry about the proposed changes. The new laws are due to be introduced on July 1, 2013.