The Advocate - September Edition

September 2017

Dear Member,

Much has happened since the last Advocate newsletter in June and I am delighted to be able to further update you on our progress towards becoming a profession.

REINSW held a half-day Future Agent Summit aimed at engaging with younger agents and it was enlightening for everyone who attended.

I will also update you on the latest with the Residential Tenancies Act Bill as it draws closer, the real estate reforms and much more. 

Kind regards,
John Cunningham | REINSW President

Future Agent Summit 2017: The Path to Professionalism

REINSW recently held a half-day Future Agent Summit event to ignite industry interest in becoming a respected profession.

The event was a follow-up to the Think Tank Pre-Launch of the Professionalism Program held at Parliament House as part of our drive to consult with the industry on the national drive by the REIA for the industry to be formally recognised as a profession.

The Future Agent Summit was aimed at engaging with younger agents who will be taking forward the challenge of professionalism over the coming years. Many of the industry’s most respected agents gave presentations at the event, including John McGrath, Alexander Phillips, Shannan Whitney and Peter Matthews.

They spoke about both the need for the industry to lift its standards, it was an enlightening experience for everyone who attended. We also had a panel of agents from different facets of the industry which consisted of William Phillips, Lynette Malcolm, Andrew Lutze, Suzie Reid and Jesse Davidson, who provided great insights into how they apply professional standards. 

Members of the Property Professionals Advisory Group - set up to examine the critical elements to qualify as a profession - consisting of Leanne Pilkington, Chris Mourd, Shannan Whitney, Peter Matthews and myself, also spoke of the path to professionalism. 

Shannan eloquently explained that “we are here to stir the hornets’ nest”. And stir we did because that is what is required in order to shake many practitioners out of their stupor of complacency. Change is coming at such a rapid pace it is time for us to evolve and develop a new way of thinking and behaving to meet the emerging expectations of consumers.

The pathway to professionalism is developing rapidly and the events we have been running in NSW is helping to plant seeds to create ambassadors as we design a blueprint that can be rolled out across Australia during 2018. 

It is early days on the journey and momentum is growing, so stay tuned for more news as it develops. To find out more about our journey towards professionalism, click here.

REINSW calls for a dedicated Commissioner for Property Services

The property industry is the engine room of the New South Wales economy and the single largest contributor to the government’s revenue. Despite this, it’s important role is not fully acknowledged by the State government.

The contribution the property industry makes to our community’s well-being is often treated with distain by members of Parliament. The time has come to say enough is enough. 

For too long the property services industry has been treated like second class citizens. We are constantly asked to react to new regulations, which at times are not justified. Every time we submit suggestions for reform or improvement to the government and NSW Fair Trading, it takes years before anything is done by which time the outcome is too late or so twisted out of shape it has no meaning. 
We are at the centre of almost every property transaction and our influencing power is enormous. If we underutilized our position imagine what we could achieve. 

The irony of our current predicament is that everything we want to achieve is based around creating better consumer outcomes resulting in a more professional industry, yet we are hamstrung by bureaucratic posturing of utopian proportions. 

Last year REINSW joined with other representative bodies to call for the appointment of a dedicated Commissioner for Property Services who would work cooperatively with the industry. 

This would improve consumer confidence and ensure the prosperity of the sector is maximised for the benefit of all stakeholders. REINSW is continuing to lobby on this issue and will keep you updated every step of the way. 

Real estate and property industry reforms

The draft legislation for the NSW Government’s Real Estate and Property Services Industry Reform is set to go to Cabinet for approval in September/October. 

The reforms are the most significant for the property services industry in more than 20 years. The Real Estate Reference Group, which is made up of key industry and NSW Fair Trading stakeholders including REINSW, has been given access to the Cabinet-in-Confidence documents.

Although our tongues are tied we are working hard to ensure the legislation, regulations and guidelines meet what is required and intended to achieve in the reform proposals that we proposed back in 2015. 
NSW Fair Trading joined REINSW on our Roadshow to help prepare the industry for the changes coming, but we must remain diligent to ensure there are no last minute amendments!

We expect the reforms will be implemented by mid-2018 with a further 12 months of transition to allow businesses to be fully prepared and ready for what lies ahead. 

A WORD OF CAUTION: Please be on your guard against some RTO's which are offering education and training packages for the new legislation before it has been confirmed and passed. They are merely trying to create fear and cash in.

Residential Tenancies Act Bill draws closer

The Residential Tenancies Act Review is finally close to being submitted for Cabinet approval. REINSW has been working closely with NSW Fair Trading over the past two years as part of the five-year statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. 

After an extensive iteration process, and copious dedicated hours of commitment in fighting for the best outcome for the industry from the awesome team at REINSW and the amazing Property Management Chapter Committee members, it is drawing to a close. 
Following on from a meeting with the Minister Matt Kean in June, I have been assured that the review will be fair to all stakeholders, however we can never take things for granted. REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin and I had some follow-up meetings with the Minister’s Policy Advisors in an endeavour to put across our position on a number of contentious issues. 

We raised our concerns over a number of issues to ensure the Minister receives advice from the industry as well as from his bureaucracy.

NSW Complaints Register update

NSW Fair Trading launched the Complaints Register last year despite our strenuous objections around its unfair and misleading structure.

The Register provides information about businesses which attract 10 or more complaints in a calendar month. But in a major flaw it grouped together franchisees, marketing groups and co-operative models who share a brand.

The net result? Innocent small businesses operating under franchise or co-operative brands are tarred with the same brush as those which have had complaints made against them, which is completely unfair.
As we predicted the only traders who would appear would be franchise groups, meaning the largest real estate groups Ray White and LJ Hooker would regularly appear, as would Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and Jim’s Mowing.

Not a single trading entity/business in NSW has received more than 10 complaints in a single month so the purpose of the register failed dismally. 

REINSW, in association with a number of franchise and marketing groups, have made submissions to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean for a review and I’m pleased to report that it is currently underway.

We’re expecting to see some significant changes put before the Real Estate Reference Group shortly for consideration. We are pushing for changes which have a meaningful impact on fairness for the industry and transparency for property consumers and won’t rest until this is achieved.

The Australasian Auctioneering Championships 2017

I attended the Australasian Auctioneering Championship in Adelaide at the beginning of September where the cream of the crop from Australia and New Zealand went head-to-head in the toughest test of skills this industry has ever seen.

NSW was represented by Clarence White and Jesse Davidson who were simply outstanding, and I came away with such pride. Clarence qualified for the final five and clinched second spot after a hotly contested final day.

The margin between first and second was incredibly close and when you witness what the auctioneers are put through in this competition it makes you appreciate how incredibly talented they are. 
The tricky bidding sequences, curly questions and stress levels are not for the faint-hearted, and both Clarence and Jesse had to be at the top of their game - and they were. 

Congratulations to Queensland’s Justin Nickerson who won for the second consecutive year with an outstanding call. After seeing this crop of professionals we can rest assured that the future of auctioneering is in safe hands.