2015 – Mandatory Continuing Professional Development
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is committed to cultivating and maintaining the highest professional standards in the Queensland real estate sector. As part of this commitment, since 2005 the REIQ has required its members to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as a condition of membership. This ensures that our members have an up to date understanding of consumer protections and other laws governing the conduct of real estate professionals and the transactions they facilitate. However, while the REIQ represents some 4,500 individual members and 1,550 agency offices, there are a large number of real estate practitioners outside the REIQ membership who undertake no ongoing education, and may have a limited understanding of changes in the law.
For this reason, the REIQ supports a state-wide system of mandatory CPD, as a condition of holding and renewing a real estate licence or registration. This will ensure all real estate practitioners can deliver the highest level of service to clients and consumers, and will enhance the integrity of the profession in Queensland. The REIQ also proposes to continue providing CPD training to all members free of charge.
In order to become a licensed real estate agent or registered salesperson in Queensland, an individual must complete a nationally accredited training course, and pass a range of rigorous background checks. However, once these initial educational requirements are completed and the licence or registration is granted, there is currently no requirement for any further training or professional development as long as that person’s licence or registration remains current.
Potentially, a person who was granted a real estate agent’s licence or registration in Queensland in the 1970s could be operating today without ever having to undertake any further education. And yet in the last 40 years, the law governing real estate practitioners and protecting consumers has been amended frequently and, in some cases, very significantly.
The REIQ believes mandatory CPD would be beneficial to the real estate profession and the Queensland public in the following ways:
- compulsory CPD will enable real estate practitioners to maintain and enhance the professionalism of the service they provide by ensuring that they are up to date with their knowledge of existing laws;
- it will result in fewer errors committed by practitioners, and therefore a reduction in disciplinary proceedings;
- experience in other states indicates it leads to an increase in consumer satisfaction;
- it will give consumers greater confidence in the sector;
- mandated CPD will reduce the number of claims made against The Claim Fund established under the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014;
- this results in fewer professional indemnity claims that currently cost the Queensland community millions of dollars each and every year;
- it will bring Queensland into line with the five Australian states and territories that have already established a mandatory CPD program or are in the process of doing so; and
- it will enhance the general reputation of the profession in the eyes of the public.
For all of these reasons, the REIQ firmly believes the time has come for Queensland to introduce mandatory CPD for people operating in real estate. We call on all political parties in Queensland to adopt this position in the interests of consumers and of the wider real estate profession.
Making a CPD scheme work for Queensland
The REIQ already requires all of its members to undertake CPD training in order to maintain their membership. There are sound reasons for extending this requirement to the entire sector. An examination of all disciplinary proceedings against real estate agents since 2013 shows that not once has an REIQ member been found guilty of breaching the relevant legislation.
It is our view that the reason no REIQ members have been involved in disciplinary proceedings is because of their thorough understanding of current laws and best practice, gained through their participation in our CPD activities. We also believe this commitment to industry best practice is instilled in our members during their training flows through to the culture of their businesses and approach to client interactions. This underscores the effectiveness of CPD in ensuring that those operating in the sector have an impeccable level of knowledge and understanding of existing laws. Mandatory CPD works to clean out individuals who do not complete relevant training by ensuring that all practising real estate practitioners stay abreast of the law. It also acts as a deterrent for people to operate in the sector who have not maintained the required CPD training by imposing stringent penalties on offenders – up to and including loss of licence.
The REIQ believes a compulsory CPD scheme for Queensland real estate practitioners could be implemented without significant additional cost to government or red tape for the sector. Currently, real estate practitioners are required to apply to renew their licences or registration either annually or every 3 years, and pay a renewal fee to the State Government. The REIQ proposes that all licensed agents and registered salespersons would, as part of the renewal process, be required to demonstrate they have satisfied their annual CPD requirements in the previous year/s.
Compulsory CPD – the interstate experience
As previously mentioned, mandatory CPD for real estate practitioners is already in place in a number of Australian states and territories, including:
- New South Wales;
- Western Australia;
- Northern Territory; and
- Australian Capital
Further, mandatory CPD for real estate practitioners also exists in New Zealand.
According to a Report from the Real Estate Institute of Australia in October 2012, mandated CPD has had a very beneficial impact in Western Australia. In 2007 compulsory CPD was introduced for licensees and then for sales representatives in 2009.
In the five years leading up to and including 2009, the average number of written concerns received by the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia was 143 per annum. However, in the year (2010) following the implementation of CPD, the number of written concerns fell by 70% to a mere 58 written complaints. Moreover, the average for the first three years to 2012 was 55, constituting a reduction in written complaints of 61%1.
In New South Wales in April 2017, an audit on CPD compliance by NSW Fair Trading found that 68 people operating in the real estate sector had failed to comply with laws regarding CPD. These agents were dealt with by the authorities under the relevant laws, ensuring the integrity of the state’s CPD system. However, the fact that a state with mandatory CPD can produce such a high level of agents who fail to educate themselves about changes to their profession leads to the conclusion that a state such as Queensland would have even more practitioners failing to undertake some form of professional development2.
Industries in Queensland with Mandatory CPD
Numerous industries that span the Queensland economy already have in place some form of mandated CPD. Examples in Queensland include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Legal profession;
- Qualified accountant;
- Medical profession;
- Engineering; and
- Pool safety
It is our firm view that if these industries and professionals can make a CPD system work for the benefit of consumers, the real estate sector can too.
REIQ is proposing to all political parties taking part in the Queensland state election a policy that real estate practitioners be required to complete at least 7 hours of annual CPD as part of their licensing or registration renewal process. This requirement could be applied without significant new public service machinery needed to support it.
And although governments are generally reluctant to impose any new measures that could be viewed as business ‘red tape’, a measure such as this that has the support of the peak industry body is feasible. This is particularly true when the additional compliance burden is weighed against the consumer benefits.
About the REIQ
The REIQ has been the State’s peak association for the real estate profession since 1918. With almost 100 years’ experience, few associations hold the reputation or brand recognition of the REIQ in Queensland.
Today, it represents approximately 4,500 individual members, around 1,550 agency offices, and more than 15,000 property professionals including principal licensees, salespeople, property managers, resident unit managers, auctioneers, business brokers, buyers’ agents, and commercial and industrial agents in Queensland.