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Push for a property services commissioner makes headway

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
19 March 2021 | 1 minute read
REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin

With the matter now before Parliament, the REINSW has reiterated its push for the establishment of a property services commissioner, arguing that the state’s largest industry needs to be overseen by a regulatory authority that is exclusively focused on the industry.

The Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) has upped calls for a property sector overhaul, urging the lower house to follow the lead of the upper house and pass the Property Services Council Bill.

According to the REINSW, the current set-up, which sees real estate fall under the regulatory umbrella of NSW Fair Trading, isn’t adequate given real estate’s sheer size and its estimated $10 billion contribution to the state’s tax revenue.

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As such, the REINSW sees the Property Services Council Bill — introduced this week and passed by the Legislative Council — as a way to right several wrongs and as a stepping stone towards the creation of a “key regulatory authority for the property services industry”.

“A dedicated, experienced authority committed to delivering better outcomes for consumers and genuinely engaging with industry is essential,” said REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin.

Mr McKibbin’s and the REINSW’s push for the bill’s passage hinges on the belief that NSW Fair Trading is unable to dedicate the appropriate time to the real estate industry given that its authority includes 40 other industries in the state.

“Making Fair Trading the regulatory authority for the industry is an experiment that has failed because it lacks the core competencies for an industry as complex as property. The efficiencies this structure was supposed to deliver have not come to pass,” Mr McKibbin added.

He argued that “good policy” addresses issues before they cause harm.

“It requires the exclusive focus of an authority with real industry experience and a commitment to stakeholder engagement. Unfortunately, this environment, with Fair Trading at the helm, does not exist today,” Mr McKibbin argued.

“For most people, a real estate transaction will be the largest they ever make. The people of New South Wales deserve an authority exclusively focused in this area, like other states have.”

According to Mr McKibbin, the bill will not only bring NSW up to date with regulatory models used in other states, but will also align the property industry with the legal and building services industries.

“This bill returns the property industry to the regulatory environment of old, and it replicates the regulatory architecture of the legal and building services industries, and of other states,” he said.

“Government legislation is driven by the advice it receives and good policy comes from broad engagement and understanding of the industry in question. There are many policy shortcomings that a real estate services commissioner, representing the best interests of consumers, could address.”

Among these is the appointment of a building services commissioner that could address building quality standards in the wake of some high-profile residential tower failures.

“A real estate services commissioner will improve standards of quality and trust both in the regulation and operation of the industry, for the benefit of consumers,” Mr McKibbin said.

“The REINSW believes that what is good for the consumer is good for the market and the industry. Consumer satisfaction is paramount. They must have confidence in the transparency and hygiene of the market, and if the regulatory authority is unable to deliver that, then it has failed its fundamental obligation.

“We urge the lower house to pass the bill in the interests of consumers and all stakeholders. A forum within which industry and government can proactively tackle issues and drive better consumer outcomes is long overdue.”

Previously, Mr McKibbin had considered the push for a property services commissioner as “one of the most important projects” of the REINSW in 2021.

Push for a property services commissioner makes headway
TimMcKibbin reb
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Grace Ormsby

Grace Ormsby

Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.

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