The real estate industry has called for stricter education requirements amid rising levels of fraud and qualifications which can be completed in a matter of days.

At the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales’ recent Industry Summit leaders were united in their desire for higher standards, REINSW deputy president John Cunningham told Your Investment Property sister publication Australian Broker.

“It’s [got] to the point now where it’s so easy to get your real estate agents’ license that the people are just not getting educated as to what they require so the standards are just dropping lower and lower,” said Cunningham.

Real estate agents deal with dozens of different pieces of legislation and handle millions of dollars in trusts, said Cunningham, and a high standard of education is crucial.

Currently there are providers who will issue a real estate license after as little as four days of study, he said.

“It’s just a farce. The requirements for a lawyer are four to six years of university. Real estate agents are dealing with just as many pieces of legislation… so they’re opening things up to fraud.

“I’ve seen probably more trust account fraud in last couple years than I’ve seen in a long, long time and I think it’s just the beginning in terms of people who are working in the business who shouldn’t be.”

Forging reform and introducing Australia-wide minimum requirements is the biggest challenge the industry has faced in over 30 years, said Cunningham, but often legislators are less than co-operative.

“In the past there’s been this advent in government to take away barriers of entry to certain industries and all that does is lower the standards and the person who suffers in the end is the consumer.”