'Entry and professional development standards [in real estate] have been too low for too long. Now, this is starting to change...' John Cunningham, Director at Cunninghams, President Real Estate Institute of NSW & Panelist at RMAOpen 2018 ‘Industry disruptors’ like Purple Bricks can offer low fees to vendors by providing a bare-bones service. Others like Open Agent take a share of commission from agents who accept their leads. This puts pressure on agents to increase their fees to compensate. “Despite this, vendors see little difference between industry disruptors and full-service real estate agents,” says John Cunningham, Chair of the Professionalism Committee of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, immediate Past President of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, and guest Panelist at RMAOpen 2018. “A key reason is that, in many States, entry and professional development standards have been too low for too long. Now, this is starting to change, with the development of a national standards scheme for real estate agents.” Cunningham has overall responsibility for implementing the scheme, which was spearheaded by the REINSW and will be managed by the REIA. Harmonisation = better outcomes for everyone Amongst other things, the scheme will aim to harmonise standards across all States and Territories. This includes raising the basic real estate qualification from four, to seven units in States with particularly low entry standards, and requiring everyone who seeks a full license to achieve a diploma level qualification. “We’re aiming to get the scheme up and running within two years,” says Cunningham. “It won’t be for everyone – not every agent will make the grade, and that’s how it should be. A real estate agent should be a consummate professional whom consumers can trust to provide advice, rather than someone who is primarily in the industry to make a quick buck.” Shedding the unprofessional image At present, there are a limited number of professional standards schemes in Australia covering just six industries. By initiating and implementing their own scheme, Australia’s real estate agents will ultimately take charge of their own standards rather than having them regulated by government. What’s more, they’ll join a select number of professionals who can point to their formal qualifications and professional development activities as a marker of quality that, over time, will lift them up from the ‘rogue’ image that has plagued them for so long. “Truly professional real estate agents offer value to consumers that – quite often – far exceeds their fee,” says Cunningham. “By raising and harmonising standards across Australia, we’ll not only boost professionalism in the industry, but improve consumer outcomes. That’s what it’s all about.” RMAOpen 2018 on 22 February is your opportunity to hear John speak about professionalism in real estate, the upcoming national standards scheme, and how you can get involved. Book your tickets here. UPDATE: The RateMyAgent 2018 Agent of the Year Award winners have been announced. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!