NSW REAL ESTATE LICENCE REFORMS

Real Estate Reform Update
16th November 2018

A message from the Commissioner

Dear Licence and Certificate Holders,

I am writing to you to provide an update on the licensing reforms for property agents following recent media reports about the reforms, the Real Estate Reference Group and NSW Fair Trading’s regulatory role. Our goal is to ensure the reforms are effectively implemented and we welcome your input and feedback on these matters.

We have embarked on a reform agenda which will deliver the most significant changes to licensing and qualifications for real estate and property agents in 20 years. These reforms will:

  • Change how property agents become qualified and maintain knowledge about their responsibilities;
  • Provide a learning pathway for new entrants;
  • Align the duties of persons commensurate to their level of qualification;
  • Better enable businesses to adopt modern operating models; and
  • Provide better consumer protections.

In March 2018, the NSW Parliament passed the Property Stock and Business Agents (Amendment) Act 2018. The amendments to the Act provide for a simplified licensing framework and a strengthened qualification and capability framework. New regulations and guidelines are currently being drafted that will prescribe the more detailed operational requirements to give effect to the changes made to the Act.

Fair Trading is committed to raising the standards of education and conduct in the industry. The real estate industry is a major contributor to the NSW economy and property agents act on behalf of consumers in what is often the biggest transaction of their lives. The regulatory framework for property services must provide consumers with sufficient protection and encourage ethical, competent and professional conduct. Fair Trading is also committed to increasing its compliance monitoring and enforcement efforts to secure a level playing field to support the majority of agents delivering high quality services.

The reforms will affect you and every other certificate or licence holder in the industry as well as new entrants. This is an important reform program and we want to ensure that the implementation process affords you the time and support to successfully make the necessary changes to comply with the new requirements.

To make sure we get the reforms right, Fair Trading has consulted extensively with stakeholders including peak bodies, franchise operators, registered training organisations (RTOs) as well as individual agents and business operators across the state. The Real Estate Reference Group (RERG) was formed with industry associations for the purpose of consulting on the reforms and other issues affecting the property industry.

The RERG has been instrumental in the development of the reforms, and Fair Trading will continue to consult with the RERG and stakeholders to shape the final reform package and its implementation.

Fair Trading will ensure that there will be plenty of time for business operators, trainers and property agents to become familiar with the changes and sufficient time will be provided to allow for a smooth transition.

In the meantime, it is ‘business as usual’ for property agents and this means you must still complete your annual continuing professional development to renew your licence.

If you would like more information on the reforms please refer to the Reform Paper and our Frequently Asked Questions on our website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

Please contact Fair Trading directly if you have any issues, comments or feedback so we can raise these matters at the RERG FTSS-CustomerFeedback@finance.nsw.gov.au.

Yours sincerely,

Rose Webb
Commissioner
NSW Fair Trading

Real Estate Reform Update

20th June 2018

Leverage invited to Closed Session OFT Briefing

At the invitation of the NSW Office of Fair Trading, Leverage Academy attended a closed session briefing on Wednesday (20/6/2018), for an update on the Real Estate reform legislation, including the likely timing of the new Act coming into force.

The OFT re-confirmed many of the principal aspects of the reform legislation, covering-off on;
• the re-classification of classes of agents,
• CPD reforms,
• the abolition of certain existing categories of licence (eg. Buyer’s Agent), and;
• the transitional arrangements for existing licence holders (as well as those holding Certificates of Registration).

It should be noted however that although the new Act has been passed by Parliament, the Regulations and related Ministerial Directions (which typically contain much of the operational and transactional detail) have yet to be comprehensively decided and fully settled. In other words, the details of yesterday’s OFT briefing are not “set-in-stone” and may well be re-visited before the introduction of this reform legislation.

In regard to holders of Certificates of Registration (COR), to be know in the new regime as “Assistant Agent – Class 3”, they will receive a one-off 4 year authorisation, on their next renewal and will need to have obtained their Certificate IV qualification, before the expiration of the 4 year period.

For those agents that are currently licensed, on the renewal of their licence, they will be given an opportunity to either renew as an agent (ie. “Agent – Class 2”) or apply for the new licence category, being “Agent – Class 1”). The full criteria for approval by the OFT, to obtain a Class 1 Licence, has not yet been settled, and will be subject to the yet-to-be-completed Regulations and Ministerial Directions.

In our forthcoming newsletter, we’ll provide more details on the new CPD program that the reform legislation will usher in, including how it will impact on Assistant Agents – Class 3, Agents – Class 2 and Licensee in Charge – Class 1 Agents.

The draft timetable offered by the OFT at the briefing, noted that there would be continued industry consultation in respect of the Regulations, up to and including September this year, which is when the new National Training Framework is also foreshadowed to be completed.

As for a concrete date for the implementation of the substantive provisions of the new Act, the original dates put forward some time ago by the OFT, of July 2018 and then October/November 2018, have all been vacated, until there is more clarity around the arrival of the Regulations.

Further details of the OFT briefing will be provided in forthcoming editions of this newsletter.

Leverage is committed to remaining the front-runner in keeping the real estate sector updated with all the news coming out of the NSW Office of Fair Trading, the NSW Parliament, and the Minister’s Office, in relation to the reform legislation.

What is this about?

The NSW Government released a Real Estate and Property Services Industry Reform Paper (the Reform Paper). Submissions in response to the Reform Paper were due by 5 December 2016. These will be considered as part of the law review process.

The real estate sector is integral to the economic prosperity of New South Wales. It is estimated that the sector in NSW is worth more than $15 billion per year.

The overwhelming majority of real estate agents are hardworking individuals who bring skill and integrity to their profession. Agents routinely deal with large amounts of their clients’ money. The laws must provide consumers with sufficient protection while encouraging ethical, competent and professional conduct in the industry.

To support the professionalism of the sector into the future, the Reform Paper sets out a path to:

  • improve entry standards and training requirements for the real estate and property industry
  • ensure proper career pathways and professional development through enhanced continuing professional development (CPD)
  • increase consumer protection measures through changes to trust accounting and higher standards of accountability
  • strengthen NSW Fair Trading’s powers to take action on rogue agents.

read more:

NSW Reform Paper

REI Announcement

Sydney Morning Herald Article

How could this affect you? Give us a call 1300 438 538.