One of New South Wales’ peak real estate bodies has called for the State Government to improve how the industry is monitored and regulated by the appointment of a Commissioner for Property Services.

Currently under the purview of NSW Fair Trading, the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) believes the property industry, due to its size and complex nature, deserves to be overseen by those with an intimate understanding of how it operates.

REINSW president John Cunningham said the current supervision model monitoring the real estate industry doesn’t treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

“The whole property sector is the biggest income earner for the state and we just feel that it’s not being treated with the seriousness it should. We’re not getting experts or specialists in their fields who understand what we’re about,” Cunningham said.

“We go into meetings and we find that people don’t understand what’s going on and they then have to go and research,” he said.

The REINSW has been a strong campaigner for the toughening of requirements such as minimum education standards needed to operate in NSW, and Cunningham believes the establishment of a commissioner would help that goal to be achieved.

“It’s about professional activity and professional performance and getting better outcomes for the consumer and that means you have to elevate the industry to a higher standard

“We don’t feel that in Fair Trading that we’re given that importance in being able to lift our game. We’re just constantly battling to raise the bar. We’re firmly in the belief that’s what good for consumers is good for the practitioner.”

While NSW Fair Trading has taken recent steps to improve the industry, such as clamping down on underquoting, Cunningham said the fact real estate transactions are likely to deal with large sums of money increases the need for expert oversight.

“It’s become far more complex in terms of both state laws and federal laws crossing over. The Fair Trading environment tries to be too many things for too many industries and it’s time that property was separated from it and given a standing it deserves

“We feel that if there are complaints against somebody in the property sector then they should be treated more seriously. These complaints would usually be in relation to fairly big transactions, you look at median house prices they’re up around $1 million so that’s a big issue.”

The establishment of a commissioner would also allow the real estate industry to have greater self-regulatory powers, similar to the legal sector.

“We want to move to a co-regulation model where we have stronger teeth than we currently have as industry.

“The Law Society operates in the umbrella of the Legal Services Commissioner, but they are a co-regulated model where they are able dictate that their practitioners have to meet professional standards and we want that same ability. We want to raise the bar.”