Real estate agents in licence rort

May 2 2011 / 8:11 am Was written by Atwell & Co. Comments Off
Cameron Houston and Chris Vedelago

May 1, 2011

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/real-estate-agents-in-licence-rort-20110430-1e2c8.html#ixzz1LAOBz5tl

HUNDREDS of underqualified real estate agents are exploiting a legal loophole that enables them to own and operate Victorian estate agencies after just five days training in New South Wales.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has attacked the practice as a ”blatant scam”, potentially exposing home buyers and sellers to unprofessional and incompetent agents.

REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said about a third of all newly licensed real estate agents were using the interstate short cut to avoid the more rigorous training program in Victoria, which in most cases required 12 months of part-time study.

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In the past two years, 438 Victorian agents have obtained their licences interstate, according to Business Licensing Authority figures.

”This loophole in our laws puts consumers at risk. Real estate agents should not be able to operate without the full knowledge of the laws in Victoria,” Mr Raimondo said.

Many agents have allegedly used fake addresses in Sydney to deceive the Victorian Business Licensing Authority, which is responsible for the transfer and registration of licences.

”If they are prepared to lie about their business backgrounds and where they live, what sort of real estate agents will they make?” Mr Raimondo asked.

The loophole was created by federal ”mutual recognition” laws that were introduced to help trades people and professionals transfer qualifications when moving to other states.

BLA figures show the number of Victorian estate agent licences granted through mutual recognition peaked at 40 per cent in 2008-09, up from 12 per cent in 2003-04.

The rort is not confined to residential agents. The Sunday Age is aware of several commercial agents who completed the ”intensive” course in Sydney, who now handle multimillion-dollar sales of office buildings and industrial properties.

One Melbourne-based agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity, completed a ”self-study course” at Sydney’s Kaplan Professional in four days at a cost of about $3000.

”I have no idea how it was assessed, but I’ve never heard of anyone failing. They even gave me all the information on how to transfer the licences back to Melbourne,” he said.

Kaplan Professional national business development manager Garth Heir defended the courses offered in NSW.

”We don’t have any control over the mutual recognition laws … We are just catering to the educational requirements of an industry,” Mr Heir said.

A spokesman for Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien said measures introduced by the Brumby government in March 2009 had improved the situation. The Consumer Affairs director is set to meet with the REIV, Institute of Conveyancers and Law Institute of Victoria this month to discuss their concerns about real estate regulation and practices

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