The OFT’s Role in Real Estate – Explained by the Fair Trading Commissioner
If you work in the Queensland real estate industry, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). As the regulatory body for Queensland real estate, they are responsible for issuing licences and registrations and penalising agents and agencies that break the law.
On the final episode of the Property Brief Podcast for 2021, our host Rob Doorey spoke with Victoria Thomson, the Queensland Fair Trading Commissioner, to discuss the OFT’s role in real estate and what the standards are to work in the industry.
Listen to the REIQ Property Brief and hear even more from Victoria Thomson by clicking here!
What does the OFT do?
The OFT is the regulatory body for all marketplaces in Queensland and aims to create a safe and fair environment for all consumers. This is no different in real estate and Thomson says it’s necessary to keep consumers safe in this industry.
“Our responsibilities for the real estate industry primarily involve ensuring that only appropriately qualified people get a licence and enter the industry. We also aim to ensure that those in the industry meet conduct and trust account requirements,” she says.
“As we know, the real estate industry deals with consumers who are making really important choices about the most valuable asset they will buy in their lifetime and it’s critical they are well served by these licensed individuals.”
In addition to licensing, the OFT monitors agents to see how they are conducting their business. This monitoring process involves a lot more than responding to complaints, conducting investigations and taking enforcement actions.
The OFT also offers its services to the industry by providing education services about the relevant laws so real estate professionals have all the resources they need to do the right thing.
“OFT staff do a great job of providing information and advice to the real estate industry and to others who are impacted by these businesses through our social channels, newsletters and website,” says Thomson.
“Our role is very comprehensive; we certainly do everything from the education all the way up to the big stick and thankfully we do more of the former and less of the latter.”
The OFT Sets the Standard
To work in real estate in Queensland, you need to apply for a licence or registration with the OFT. This process involves an identification check, training responsibilities, eligibility requirements and a payment.
Once this information is received by the OFT, a criminal history background check is completed and is a very important aspect of consumer protection.
“We need to make sure that it’s the people with the utmost integrity who are operating within the [real estate] market,” says Thomson.
The OFT is currently facing an unprecedented demand for people wanting to work in real estate and to maintain the integrity of the process, this has delayed the time it takes to deal with an application.
“Normally it takes around four to six weeks to get a turnaround on an application because of things like the criminal history check, which has to go through the Queensland police,” she says.
“It’s a very popular space for people to work in and the number of licence applications we’re getting at the OFT has really increased recently. We’re getting about 600 applications per month which is up from 400 per month back in 2019.
“We’ve currently got almost 36,000 licensed professionals in the real estate industry here and in Queensland and nearly 7,600 licenced businesses and corporations.”
To hear even more from Victoria Thomson about the role of the OFT, listen to the REIQ Property Brief by clicking here!