31 January 2019

How property services compares to other industries under NSW Fair Trading

REINSW is calling on the community to sign a petition to move the regulatory responsibilities of the property services industry away from NSW Fair Trading and place it under a newly created Property Services Commissioner reporting to the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

REINSW CEO, Tim McKibbin, says it’s time for the NSW Government to recognise the extraordinary value and importance of property to the State’s economy and social welfare.

“NSW Fair Trading is a competent regulator of high volume, low value transactions with minimal legal complexity. However, it does not have the competencies to regulate and support the property services industry,” he says. “Real estate is a high value, low volume, legally complex transaction. Consumers have the reasonable expectation that their advisors are highly educated, experienced and professional. NSW Fair Trading holds the contrary view, which in the opinion of REINSW, points adversely to their competence to regulate the industry.”

NSW real estate is more valuable than the aggregate of all other industries under the regulatory remit of NSW Fair Trading

NSW Fair Trading has legislative and regulatory oversight of more than 40 different trades and services, including tattoo parlour operators, second-hand dealers, work health and safety, tow truck drivers, motor vehicle dealers and hairdressers.

While all these industries are important contributors to the economy, the combined annual turnover of these industries Australia-wide is less than that of NSW real estate, which exceeds $107 billion annually based on the value of residential property sales alone.

“Across the country, 135,000 people are engaged in the property services industry, 37,703 of them in NSW” says McKibbin. “These people are involved in appraising, buying, selling and managing both residential and commercial property. Their clients place great trust in them and have high expectations – this, after all, is usually their clients’ largest asset.

“While NSW Fair Trading focuses on consumer protections for small dollar value, high-volume transactions, homebuyers – transacting hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars – are left vulnerable.”

Comparison to the State’s largest industries

While mining ($21 billion), retail ($22.8 billion) and tourism ($38.1 billion) are considered the State’s largest industries, NSW real estate – at $107 billion annually – is bigger than these industries combined. And the NSW Government further benefits from the revenue generated by stamp duty tax and land tax.

“NSW represents 38.5 per cent of the national residential property sales annually,” says McKibbin. “Sydney is one of the most expensive places to live, not just in Australia, but in the world. The industry warrants the support of a skilled and experienced regulatory authority that will work cooperatively and constructively with industry.”

Leading the charge for better regulation

“A Property Services Commissioner would be responsible for the maintenance of the regulatory environment and to support industry for better consumer outcomes,” says McKibbin.

“The Commissioner would also address housing affordability in NSW by marshalling all the property-related activities spread across the various Ministerial portfolios and Government departments under the control of one entity. This provides the structure for a consistent and coordinated strategy to deliver better quality outcomes. 

“A Property Services Commissioner will be able to advise government on the best way to remove antiquated legislation, red tape and improve consumer protection. Additionally, they will support the drive to increase education, service delivery standards and consumer satisfaction.”

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