Those buying and selling real estate in New South Wales are at risk of falling victim to illegal behaviour due to the poor training standards for real estate professionals in the state.

A long-time advocate of increasing the education and training standards for real estate professionals in the state, the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) believes that is the only way to eradicate trust account fraud, underquoting and other misleading and deceptive conduct in the industry.

“On the surface real estate sales and management appear to be very simple. However it is in reality a very complex and multilayered process that requires a high level of knowledge and diverse skills to carry it out in a professional manner,” REINSW president John Cunningham said.

“Most people would expect that an agent has been properly trained and has the required qualifications to fulfil their obligations. The sad truth is that for the past 10 years the education standards delivery especially in NSW have been watered down and in the interest of increased competition abused by many course providers that are allowed to continue operating,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said NSW’s training and education standards have deteriorated so much in recent years that some agents are unlikely to be able to provide consumers with basic information.

“It actually requires more training to become a barista than a real estate agent,” he said.

“You would expect an agent to understand how the property they are dealing with was built; its age; what the zoning is; if there are any easements, building or height restrictions; and what special conditions are in the contract, to name just a few issues.

“Professional agents can answer all of these questions, but not every agent will be able to because of the low level of training in the industry.”

The NSW Government has recently launched a crackdown on underquoting and has also lunched a complaints register which will name and shame businesses that attract numerous complaints, however Cunningham said they can no longer afford to ignore the issues surrounding training and education.

“The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales has been fighting for the past 10 years for better training and qualifications, and government cannot ignore the issue any longer.

“Inadequate real estate agent training needs to be addressed to achieve better consumer experiences and outcomes. Both the NSW Government and NSW Fair Trading must act on our recommendations for reform.

“Professional agents and consumers demand it, and now is the time to deliver it.”