Concerns over low barriers to entry and the emergence of online training courses that take five days to complete have prompted calls for tighter training requirements for buyer’s agents.
Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) president Rich Harvey said amidst the backdrop of the Banking Royal Commission, the spotlight was now firmly placed on lenders and financial planners.
He said similar rigour needed to be placed on the property industry whose many advisors were at risk of making enormous costly legal and financial mistakes.
“We are concerned many participants enrolling in these courses, particularly with new laws pending around training and licensing, are being taken advantage of for a ‘fast buck’ which could spell disaster for the individual at best and for consumers at worst,” said Mr Harvey.
“It is imperative that training courses are delivered to train buyer’s agents in the finer points of high quality service delivery and ethical work practices, rather than focus on how much money they make.
“People behave the way they are paid so if the emphasis of any training course is skewed towards only making money, this will tarnish the reputation of the whole industry.
“Like with any professional service, it takes years of experience, continuous education and hard work to excel as a buyer’s agent.
“Our members are deeply concerned that the current lack of robust training providers will not properly equip participants with the necessary skills to operate as an independent and trusted professional advisor, bringing the profession into disrepute and risking poor investment choices for unsuspecting buyers.”
Last week the Federal Court imposed an unprecedented $18 million penalty against We Buy Houses director, Rick Otton for making false and misleading claims about how people can buy a house. This landmark ruling represented the highest ever fine imposed for contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law.
REBAA is one of six groups currently lobbying the NSW government to take the property services industry out of NSW Fair Trading remit and instead create an Office of the Commissioner for the Property Services Industry made up of professional representatives that could work in tandem with an independent commissioner.
REBAA is Australia’s largest body representing independent buyer’s agents and was established to promote the highest professional industry standards.”
Its members are licensed professionals who specialise in searching, locating, evaluating and negotiating the purchase of property on behalf of buyers. They are engaged independently and only paid for by the buyer to act on their behalf.
“Professional advisors, such as licensed independent buyer’s agents, have a fiduciary duty to put their clients’ interest first,” said Mr Harvey.
“Unfortunately the current poor course frameworks don’t focus heavily enough on the legal aspects of running a business, operating a trust account, ethical dilemmas or problem-shooting when serious issues arise.”
REBAA, whose members currently require to be operating as professional buyer’s agents for two years before joining, offer a learner membership for trainee buyer’s agents who are assigned a professional mentor.
“The mentor program is free and involves an experienced buyer’s agent pairing with a learner or new buyer’s agent who might need some peer support to help them succeed in their day-to-day business,” said Mr Harvey.
“Our mentors are some of the most experienced buyer’s agents in the country who understand the challenges of starting a small business.”