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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Real Estate Education Revolution

An “Education Revolution” has been at the heart of "Kevin 07" campaigning and what education could mean under a Labor Government. The question is what this could mean for real estate?

I have some very strong views on the current training requirements for real estate agents in New South Wales and would like to think that 2008 will be the year that truly brings about a revolution for this industry. The only problem is that Federal laws do not govern the real estate industry and every State or Territory has its own set of guidelines. Most of them are fairly similar, however they are different enough to make the process of operating legally across the entire country almost impossible for any one agent or agency.

There are three main initiatives which would constitute an “Education Revolution” in 2008 for me. Firstly, a national set of guidelines under which all real estate agents operate would be an enormous step forward. The Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (NSW) governs real agents only in NSW – a Federal Act covering Australia would be wonderful but of course this would require co-operation between the Federal, State and Territory Governments.

Secondly, a national approach to the “Certificate” requirements for all real agents is essential. A completely revised entry program for all new agents must require more than a 3 day course, which currently fails to provide the basic skills required to succeed in the industry. We need to totally ban correspondence entry courses which require only a mailed assessment task. I know of many real estate agents who have simply printed off the answers from a friend and not completed a single minute of study when completing their Certificate of Registration.

Thirdly, a national approach and total overhaul of the current Licensing requirements is a must. Currently in NSW there are multiple providers of Licensing programs which vary in length of time from less than one week to up to 2 years. Assessment is inconsistent and there is a culture of “pay and pass”. A was told recently of a student studying the licensing program at TAFE who was passed to avoid the administration nightmare of failing him/her (Identity Protected). The teacher was unable to fail the student who had not turned up to class or had left the class early almost every night. To make matters worse the student did not complete assessment tasks on time and still received a pass. This system is resulting in sub-standard agents with poor knowledge and the big losers are the general public and the industry as a whole.

The real estate industry is struggling to lift its image and yet bodies like the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales fail to push for reform in such basic areas. To truly enjoy an “Education Revolution” the real estate industry requires a complete overhaul, necessitating a “clean slate approach” to rebuilding the educational requirements of the industry to attract people who would otherwise choose other consultant roles. The status quo will result in the continuation of real estate as a dumping ground for those who have failed elsewhere and have nowhere else to go.

The annual turnover of agents is around 80% (first year agents). This attrition rate is completely unacceptable and exemplifies the failure of real estate training as it now stands. By lifting the calibre of real estate newcomers we will lift the image of the industry.

Michael Marquette

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