Champions for co-regulation


REINSW’s proposed co-regulation model will result in a stronger regulatory environment and secure a prosperous future for the profession.

Improving professional conduct in real estate practice through better education, robust licensing requirements and targeted ongoing training has been high on REINSW’s lobbying agenda for a number of years. Fundamental to this end has been REINSW’s push to revamp the industry’s regulatory environment through the introduction of co-regulation.

REINSW believes it can make a valuable contribution to the regulatory environment and professional conduct of real estate agents in New South Wales. This can be achieved through an industry-funded and shared regulatory function with NSW Fair Trading.

Though REINSW’s lobbying and proposal for co-regulation has been met with some reluctance from government in the past, REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin is confident significant steps towards a more collaborative approach to better regulation and compliance will be implemented this year.

“Our lobbying for co-regulation has come about through our concern that the current regulatory environment is not serving the interests of consumers, real estate agents and the market generally,” Mr McKibbin said. “Other professions have clearly demonstrated that associations have a significant role to play in the regulatory environment. We’ve seen similar models work in other professions in NSW and also within the real estate industry in other states. We believe a co-regulation model that sees REINSW and the regulator working together co-operatively is the best way forward for all stakeholders.

“We have seen a willingness from Minister Dominello to engage in discussions regarding the benefits of co-regulation and I believe there is general acceptance in the profession and government that it would improve the regulatory environment and professional conduct of the real estate industry,” Mr McKibbin said.
"We believe a co-regulation model that sees REINSW and the regulator working  together co-operatively is the best way forward for all stakeholders.
Described by Mr McKibbin as a “mechanism for additional co-operation between the profession and the regulator,” the suite of related services proposed in REINSW’s co-regulation model is designed to complement and enhance the regulatory function of government.

The proposed model would see REINSW more involved in the regulation and improvement of professional conduct of real estate practice throughout the state. Key to REINSW’s regulatory function would be to ensure a two-way flow of information and knowledge between the regulator and practising agents.

Mr McKibbin said this model would generate a far better regulatory environment that can more effectively respond to the issues facing contemporary real estate practice. REINSW would be actively involved in communicating regulatory obligations to the profession and drive compliance with incentives, rather than the threat of penalty.

“We all want the same thing – professional delivery of service that meets or exceeds the expectations of consumers within a robust regulatory environment designed to encourage and support that outcome.

“Our proximity to the everyday challenges and issues facing the industry and profession gives REINSW a unique insight and understanding of the needs of agents, the market and consumers. This puts us in a prime position to assist the regulator to make decisions that better reflect the contemporary issues facing the industry and to effectively communicate regulatory obligations to the profession,” he said.

The proposed model
“Our proposal is for a suite of services that would work with and complement those of the regulator. At the heart of our model is improved education – we believe this is key to compliance. It would also see REINSW involved in complaints handling and mediation, in-house compliance reviews, and maintaining Continuing Professional Development and professional indemnity insurance registers,” Mr McKibbin explained.

Central to the proposed model is the formation of an Advisory Committee, which would include representatives from REINSW and other industry representative bodies, along with NSW Fair Trading. REINSW and the other industry bodies would regularly report on data gathered through the newly assigned functions in regulatory compliance. This data, which is not currently available, would give the Advisory Committee better insight into the daily challenges and compliance issues faced by the profession.

“The data flowing back to the committee would drive targeted education and address problems identified within the profession. A compliant profession benefits everyone and is best achieved through education and review of processes and procedures,” Mr McKibbin added.
"A compliant profession benefits everyone and is best achieved through education and review of processes and procedures."
Compliance reviews, registers and mediation 
“It has long been our view that compliance within the profession could be improved, and is an area that we can assist with. In part, our compliance reviews will ensure the investment government makes in creating legislation to assist agents and the consumer isn’t wasted.

“These reviews will identify where agents and agencies are compliant and those areas that need attention. The reports, supplied to the Advisory Committee, will identify trends of non-compliance and help inform the development of targeted training and education. 

“Creating registers for CPD and professional indemnity insurance, maintained and audited by REINSW with the backing of the regulator, sends a clear message to the profession and consumers about the importance placed on compliance with these obligations. It will ensure continued professional development and influence the quality of that training while significantly increasing the number of agents completing their CPD and maintaining professional indemnity insurance,” Mr McKibbin said. 

REINSW would also take an active role in facilitating mediation for aggrieved consumers.

“We believe the majority of complaints concern poor service, rather than dishonest conduct, which puts REINSW in a good position to engage all parties and reach a satisfactory resolution,” Mr McKibbin said. “A flow on benefit of this function is data. Identifying common complaints will enable the development of targeted CPD.”

Next steps 
With general acceptance by government and the profession that co-regulation would positively improve the regulatory environment, Mr McKibbin said discussion must now turn to deciding on the best model that addresses the unique needs of the industry in NSW.

Benefits of a co-regulation model
A co-regulation model benefits every sector of the real estate industry.

The profession
  • Improved standards of professional conduct, training and education
  • Better communication to ensure agents have a clear understanding of the legislation and their compliance obligations
  • Regulations will better reflect the current needs and challenges of the industry
  • Agents will have an improved reputation for professionalism and standards of conduct 

  • Improved forum for mediation and complaints resolution
  • Increased education and professional conduct within the industry will result in better service and overall outcomes for consumers
  • Improved reputation for professionalism within the real estate industry means the public will have more confidence in the market, resulting in a stronger market 

The wider industry
  • Better flow of information to the regulator will result in a greater understanding of the needs of the industry
  • Creation of Regulations that are both relevant to the challenges facing the industry and can be implemented effectively to contribute to a stronger market
  • A strong regulatory structure means non-compliance would be detected quickly and resolved 
Working together
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, has been working closely with REINSW to improve the regulatory environment. Mr Dominello said he values the knowledge and experience REINSW brings to guide regulatory reform.

“I am committed to working with the real estate industry to encourage the best possible regulatory outcome,” he said.

“To this end, we have established a new Real Estate and Property Division within Fair Trading, with its own dedicated Commissioner. The new division has a clear focus on consultation and collaboration. It includes an ongoing Real Estate Reference Group, where key industry and Fair Trading staff come together to guide and develop regulatory reform.
“I would like to congratulate REINSW for their leadership and commitment to a highly skilled, professional real estate industry.”
“The Reference Group is also working with the Professional Standards Council to assist in the improvement of industry standards, practices and member conduct. Their knowledge and experience is invaluable to the industry in its journey towards greater professionalism.

“I would like to congratulate REINSW for their leadership and commitment to a highly skilled, professional real estate industry. As we continue to work collaboratively with REINSW on a road map for greater accountability and responsibility, I see only benefits for the sector and consumers.”
The co-regulation model
The proposed co-regulation model will see REINSW involved at critical points in the regulation and oversight of the profession.

Ministerial Advisory Committee
comprising representatives from government and professional associations, including REINSW

The Ministerial Advisory Committee will be the governing body with oversight of the regulatory functions assigned to REINSW.

REINSW will have an in-depth consultative role in the development and maintenance of the regulatory environment.

Continuing professional development
Agents will be required to complete six hours of mandatory professional development annually.

Professional associations, including REINSW will deliver three hours of that training from material developed and prescribed by the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Agents will have the flexibility to complete the remaining three hours in their area of specialisation with other training providers approved by the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Compliance reviews
Professional associations, including REINSW will conduct compliance reviews in accordance with an audit program created and maintained by the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

This function will be educational and focused on encouraging compliance.

Compliance management
REINSW will provide a consumer complaints handling process.

Through the process, the parties will be offered the opportunity to resolve their dispute via mediation.

Maintenance of registers
REINSW will create and maintain a Continuing Professional Development register and a Professional Indemnity Insurance register. These registers will help agents meet their compliance obligations in this area.

Business skills training
REINSW will develop and deliver training material to equip agents for the transition from employee to agency owner.

Agents who want to operate their own business will need to successfully complete this training to have the restriction removed from their licence.