Falsified credentials are a growing concern as Australia’s recent property boom has flooded the industry with an increase in bogus buyer’s advocates.
According to Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) president, Cate Bakos, some advocates are falsely claiming specialist skills as well as membership of professional organisations such as REBAA and the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA).
Earlier this week, PIPA Chair Nicola McDougall raised the alarm saying some practitioners were in breach of Australian Consumer Law by misrepresenting themselves as members of a professional association when they were not.
“As an association, REBAA is becoming increasingly concerned by the number of new entrants with little or no experience, some of whom are falsely claiming membership of REBAA on their websites,” said Ms Bakos.
“The association is equally concerned by reports from newcomers that some online non-accredited courses are failing to deliver the actual skills required in the role, despite charging large enrolment fees.
“These online courses are also often leading to false expectations in terms of salary expectations and leaving consumers vulnerable to significant financial losses if their buyer’s agent lacks the skills to deliver a sound purchase for them.”
According to Ms Bakos when consumers are engaging with buyer’s agents and advocates with fake credentials, it comes down to fundamentals. Consumers need to compete thorough background checks.
“The important thing is to verify past experience,” she said.
“Sites such as LinkedIn can assist consumers with this however, what is more important is the length of their experience in the industry. A minimum of two years should be taken as reasonable. Likewise, consumers need to verify that their advisor is truly a member of the industry association they claim by checking the member association’s website.”
REBAA is a not-for-profit organisation created to protect and serve homebuyers and investors across Australia. Established in the year 2000, it is the oldest and largest professional body representing independent buyer’s agents.
Its members adhere to a strict Code of Conduct and are required to be a practising buyer’s agent for a minimum of two years, be a licensed real estate agency in their state and not have properties listed for sale.
To see the full list of REBAA accredited members click here.