19 Apr 2018

Raising the bar: New licensing requirements coming for NSW buyer's agents

NSW buyer’s agents are bracing themselves for changes to current real estate legislation which will see a raft of new licensing requirements. REBAA is currently lobbying the NSW State Government to ensure that consumers have a clear understanding of whether they are working with a professional and exclusive buyer’s agent versus an advocate or buyer’s liaison who is being paid by the vendor.

We asked REBAA’s immediate past president and Deputy Chairperson of the REINSW Buyers Agents Chapter Jacque Parker what she thinks of the proposed changes and how they will affect the industry:

Q: Why do you think the current licensing arrangements are under review?

A: The current minimum educational standards for entering the industry are too low, and this is reflected in the increasing number of complaints to NSW Fair Trading by consumers. It has been clear for many years now that standards need to be raised, thus the change for agents to be more highly qualified and better trained. A better educated agent ultimately delivers a better consumer experience and outcome.
Q: How will the upcoming changes to licensing laws in NSW affect the buyer’s agents industry and do you support them?

A: The current restricted buyer’s agents license will no longer be sufficient, as all real estate agents (regardless of who they’re representing i.e. sellers or purchasers) will be required to hold a complete real estate license. I believe this is a good move in the industry, in terms of ensuring that agents on both sides of the fence possess the same qualifications and levels of training. It also provides a valuable insight for buyer’s agents, particularly those who haven’t worked on the selling side, into the practices and strategies that selling agents employ to work with their clients.

Q: What training requirements will licensed NSW buyer’s agents be required to have?

A: New applicants will be required to hold a complete Certificate 1V in Property Services which, upon completion, will allow them to then apply to Fair Trading NSW for a real estate licence. They can take up to 12 months to complete all courses and there are a number of options both online and/or face-to-face classroom training. The new reforms will also require a licensed applicant to have at least 12 months’ practical industry experience before being able to obtain their licence. Compulsory Professional Development (CPD) minimum standards are also being increased across the board, improving the minimum level of ongoing professional development.

Under the reforms, for new buyers agents who wish to run their own business and apply to be a ‘licensee in charge’, there will be more stringent minimum mandatory requirements including the below:

• completion of a Diploma and having at least 2 years’ practical experience as an agent under the supervision of a ‘licensee in charge’, or
• holding a Certificate IV and an equal qualification in business management.

Q: How will this benefit buyers?

A: Having an agent who is more highly trained can only be beneficial in our industry, as consumers will reap the advantages of having a more knowledgeable advocate on their side. Obviously, experience rates highly but agents also need to keep abreast of legislative changes and this is done most effectively with increased training and CPD.

Q: Do you think these changes should apply nationally across the industry?

A: Each state is different so it’s difficult to comment here, however I do believe that having a minimum of 12 months experience in the industry, prior to being able to qualify as a real estate agent is a good move as it encourages experience and also discourages those from entering a highly competitive industry unless they are proficient, passionate and highly motivated.

Q: Why should consumers be concerned whether or not their buyer’s agent is licensed?

A: An agent acting on behalf of purchasers is required to hold the correct license (here in NSW) before they are able to legally act so it is vital that consumers either engage a REBAA agent or double check their agent’s qualifications online at: https://www.onegov.nsw.gov.au/publicregister/#/publicregister/search/Property

Q: What do you believe is the current perception of buyer’s agents with the public generally?

A: Buyer’s agents are still a niche industry, though fast-growing, with many consumers now aware of the benefits that they bring to a purchasing transaction. There is still some confusion around the term ‘exclusive buyers agents’ so it’s important that consumers are aware of the differences and ensure they engage a REBAA buyers agent to ensure they are obtaining the best independent representation.