“Mates protecting mates”  Yeah. Right!

The “Honourable” Clayton Cosgrove, in his highly emotive and accusatory tirades against real estate agents and our Institute, substantially justified his rushed and (relatively) poorly drafted new legislation by saying that the Institute was protecting wayward Members, a case of “mates protecting mates”, was his catch cry.
Well, how does that look now? The first ten decisions have been released by the newly created Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA). The result, eight have been thrown out as no case to answer, one was given a censure (the lowest possible “slap on the wrist”) and just one has been referred to a hearing.
Authority Chair Kristy McDonald said (14th April 2010) that the REAA has received around 300 complaints in its first five months. During that time Institute Members have settled around 30,000 residential sales and been involved in tens of thousands of interactions involving tenancies and property management.   300 complaints doesn’t seem too bad against that volume of business, especially if the majority are going to be thrown out. Also, apparently many, if not most, refer to residential tenancy issues which is substantially excluded from the legislation.
It was also stated that the REAA have received around 17,000 phone calls so far. This needs to be considered alongside the fact that there were around 18,000 license/certificate holders at the end of March and all had to renew if they wanted to stay in the real estate agency business. The forms they had to complete contained errors and one question with a double negative in it that no-one I know of has yet been able to understand. Many license re-newers called the REAA for help.
The REAA is now a fact of life and the Institute and most of its Members are delighted that, after fighting for restructuring and significant toughening up of complaints processes and penalties for almost 20 years, it has now happened. Sadly, and as referred to before, it was not done well.   Fortunately, the people in charge of and running the REAA have been excellent in their communication with agents and seem to be intent on doing a good job despite some failings in the legislation.   Perhaps with their input to Government, the legislation may evolve over the next few years to be more meaningful and effective.
Link to Part 2, the update of this report
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