If there was any doubt which side of the great strata divide Fair Trading is on – between those who make money from Real Estate and those who live in it – it was clarified last week in an announcement from Better Regulation, trumpeting the creation of a Real Estate Expert panel.
“The NSW Government has established a panel of real estate professionals to be a voice to government on issues impacting the sector and provide expert advice on improving the conduct of agents and the experience of consumers,” a Press release proudly boasted last week.
And so its members, tasked with improving the experience of consumers, was a round-up of most of the usual industry suspects – strata managers, real estate agents, short-term holiday rental advocates and landlords – all good people with a contribution to make (although I’m not entirely sure what the representative of the Wool and Pastoral Agency brings to the table).
But notably absent from the panel were representatives of renters or strata residents. There’s no room for either Tenants NSW or the Owners Corporation Network, presumably on the principle that if you are trying to “improve the conduct of agents and experience of consumers”, the last people you want to hear from are the victims (sorry, I mean customers).
In the press release accompanying the announcement Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the Property Services Expert Panel signalled a new approach to how the government will engage with the critical sector.
“The property services sector contributes over $100 billion to the NSW economy and employs over 37,000 people across the state,” Mr Anderson said. “Given the significance of this industry, it is crucial that our engagement with it is strong and is able to proactively address the issues and opportunities that lie ahead in NSW.”
I called Better Regulations and asked why TenantsNSW and the OCN weren’t on the expert committee and was told that the panel was primarily for service providers, rather than consumers.
I called OCN and TenantsNSW and, without going into too much detail, their responses were along the lines of they really didn’t need any more committees in their lives but they should have been on this one.
“It’s very disappointing to see the lack of consumer representation on this Panel,” said Karen Stiles, executive officer of the Owners Corporation Network. “One would think that property owners and residents would bring a crucial voice to the real estate conversation.”
Fair Trading clearly doesn’t agree: “This Panel includes voices from across the entire sector to reflect the diversity of professions and associations representing the real estate sector,” Mr Anderson said.
Hmmm. The “entire sector” … apart from the owners and renters who pump money into it and without whom it would not exist.
The inaugural appointees of the Property Services Expert Panel are:
- Chris Duggan (Chair), Strata Community Association (strata managers’ professional organisation)
- Sadhana Smiles, Real Estate Industry Partners;
- Adrian Carr, PICA Group (strata and building facilities managers)
- Tim McKibbin, REINSW (real estate agents’ professional body)
- David Ferraz, Australian Institute of Business Brokers
- Trevor Rawnsley, Australian Resident Accommodation Manager’s Association (short-term rentals hosts)
- Sasha Boe, Real Estate Training Solutions
- Peter Baldwin, Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association
- Bryan Wilcox, Real Estate Employers Federation
- Michael Wright, Australian Wool and Pastoral Agency
- Sylvia Cortez, Estate Agents Co-operative
- Chris Mourd, McGrath (real estate agents)
- John Gilmovich, Property Owners Association (private landlords’ association).
The panel will have its first meeting next month at which it will establish its priorities for the year ahead. Here’s a suggestion – how about listening to your customers? Too radical?