latte agents

Property investors at risk by Latte agents

Are Australian property investors being put at risk by a small number of real estate agents who are speeding through certain courses quicker than drinking coffee?

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Imagine putting your property dream in the hands of a real estate agent who’s had less training that a person making a cup of coffee.

Well it doesn’t happen everyday – we hope, but it’s often happening in New South Wales and Victoria and because of this, it’s putting property owners and investors at risk as some agents brag about being about to speed through training programs faster than it takes to become a qualified barista.

Industry leaders say some agents are making big mistakes, such as breaching client and customer privacy, by doing things that imply the haven’t spent enough time studying the rules.

The average real estate agent earns about $71,000 a year, which includes sales commission and is actually below the average wage of $79,000, according to data provided exclusively to Financy from jobs website SEEK.

Charles Tarbey chairman of Century21 said better educational standards were “critical” because a few bad apples were making life more difficult for many good real estate agents.

“An agent should not provide any confidential information such as a person’s name to a seller regarding a buyer, nor to a buyer regarding a seller without permission, other than the normal disclosures on a seller about the property,” he said.

John Cunningham managing director of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales said he recently experienced a situation where an agent breached his privacy at an auction by telling another prospective buyer his name and also lying about his interest in a property in order to build up competitive sales pressure.

Another source, who asked not to be named, told Financy that an agent in Sydney’s Northern Beaches disclosed his name to a client selling a property, allowing him to research the person and whether or not to send him a sales contract.

Victoria’s training of real estate agents is similar to that of NSW. Indeed last month, six LJ Hooker branches in Melbourne were shut down after the owners reportedly spent client home deposits that were supposed to be held in trust.

Currently real estate agents with prior experience and training can obtain licenses in a week and a certificate of registration in a matter of days to operate in NSW.

By contrast, agents in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia require six times more training than those on the east coast, according to Mr Cunningham.

He added that issues around privacy and potential discrimination shows the extent to which the laws governing educational standards needed updating and he claims some agents have qualifications straight out of a “Kellogg’s Cornflake” box.

“I think most consumers would be horrified to learn that they are putting their most valuable asset in the hands of a person who has less than a week’s training, in fact it actually requires more training to become a barista than a real estate agent,” said Mr Cunningham.

He added that some real estate agents have bragged about being able to do their continuing professional development (CPD) courses in 18 minutes.

“This is not the fault of real estate agents, they are just like anybody else in that if you can generally do something quicker, easier and cheaper, you will, so the government needs to actually monitor educational standards and what’s going on in online training.”

A review is currently underway into the educational standards of real estate agents and a report is with the NSW Department of Fair Trading.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Innovation and Better Regulation, formerly Fair Trading,Victor Dominello said the Minister will provide a response to the report in the coming months.

Registered training providers that offer real estate courses include the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Kaplan Professional, the Australian College of Professionals, Think Real Estate and Real Estate Training Solutions among a number of others.

To read the full report on click here.

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