20 Nov 2023

Correct licencing: a buyers’ agent essential

From the desk of Eva Coughran, REBAA Secretary & Executive Committee Member

Our professional responsibilities as buyers’ agents are far reaching and critical. We are helping everyday people secure what will likely be their largest ever financial commitment. This is why being appropriately licensed to give objective advice and guidance is so crucial.

If you look across the gamut of people in our industry, there are far too many who are not getting it right.

I think most REBAA members would agree that regulation in the Real Estate sector is woefully inadequate. The barrier to entry is far too low and there are still plenty of cowboys working the system. That’s why ensuring that we all at least meet the basic minimum requirement of licencing is fundamental.

In this modern world, it’s incredible to think there remain in the field, buyers’ agents who are either sadly unaware, or wilfully ignorant of licencing requirements when conducting business as a buyers’ agent. And REBAA wants to put those people on notice by both raising awareness and maintaining rigorous standards for our membership.

What is licencing?

Each state or territory across Australia has a formal set of rules, enshrined in some form of legislation, relating to operating as a licenced agent in real estate.

A state’s licencing course – normally run by the relevant Real Estate Institute (REI) – provides instruction on the specific laws governing the buying and selling of property in that jurisdiction. Things like how to formally engage a client, draft a contract, understand basic contract conditions, and other fundamentals of procedure. In most instances, the licencing course if short and, in many respects, rudimentary.

That said, it is essential and mandatory. It provides an important launchpad for building your professional chops through practical application, normally under the guidance of a more experienced buyers’ agent mentor.

As licensing requirements change and new entrants come into the industry we’re seeing a range of licencing challenges, the first of which is many unlicenced new entrants to the field.

Many (not all mind you) will have done some form of course, often delivered by a private operator. These “graduates” then launch straight into purchasing on behalf of clients, little realising they also need an accredited agent’s licence and that they can’t just act under someone else’s.

Then there are buyers’ agents who are licenced in one jurisdiction but buy in another. In Queensland, as in other states, we’ve seen a spate of interstate agents cross borders and look to secure property on behalf of their out-of-town clients. Unfortunately, a proportion don’t have a local licence to operate, and they’re in breach of Queensland legislation.

Then there’s another group. It’s those principals of larger businesses who hold a licence themselves, but offload buyers’ agent tasks to their unlicenced employees. Unless appropriately licensed, these staff members shouldn’t be conducting due diligence or negotiations, and they definitely shouldn’t be providing advice to clients, eek!.

REBAA’s role

REBAA’s role is not governance – we don’t enforce legislation. However REBAA has as part of its mission the objective of educating our profession, property stakeholders in general and the public at large about the importance of using a licenced buyers’ agent.

We are also unapologetic is making sure REBAA members meet licencing requirements. It’s a big part of the reason associating your business with REBAA is so valuable. Our endorsement delivers certainty to those seeking a buyers’ agent’s services. These purchasers know that a REBAA member will be appropriately licenced and is operating under a code of ethics.

REBAA is also actively looking to create a register of licenced buyers’ agent so that the public has a safe source for seeking purchasing assistance.

So, we encourage every REBAA member to ensure their licencing requirements (and that of their employees) are relevant and up to date. Get it wrong and the result will likely be irreparably damage to your business and your reputation.