Real Estate Agents in Australia March 2012 29
Regulation & Policy continued
Industry Assistance Level & Trend he level of T
Industry Assistance is None and the trend is Steady
and a disciplinary proceedings framework. The institutes provide members with multiple listing services; combined buying power to provide agents with training, standard contracts, indemnity insurance and stationery at a competitive cost; and government, media and community lobbying. Work safety guidelines for the real estate industries have also been released in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, helping agents to identify risks to employees. The Victorian practice code, Real Estate Agent Out-of-Office Safety, released in 2006, aims to help protect real estate agent staff from dangerous people and prescribes practices and penalties for breaching the code. In 2008, Victorian legislation was amended to state that the auctioneer must make clear that the auctioneer is not able to accept bids or offers for a property after the property has been knocked down to the successful bidder. Federal regulation Federal government regulation currently emerges from the ACCC, from the Franchise Code of Conduct or when foreign investment is involved. The ACCC produced a guide on how the real estate industries are affected by the Trade
Practices Act. Real estate franchise systems must comply with the Franchise Code of Conduct. The National Real Estate Franchise Association of Australia, which represents franchisors, recently entered into a strategic alliance with the Real Estate Institute of Australia. The Institute of Conveyancers represents conveyancers. Several changes to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act were made to during 2009 and 2010, including broadening its scope to cover all types of foreign investments. The four lowest thresholds for private business investment were also replaced with a single threshold of 15% in a business worth $219 million, which was increased to $231 million in 2010. Furthermore, temporary residents need to notify the government before buying residential real estate. The Productivity Commission’s 2010 annual report on consumer services highlighted the industry’s concern that the differences between each state and territory regulatory environment create undesired complications for interstate organisations. Property services, however, will be one of the first industries to be included in the National Licensing System by 1 July 2012.
No import tariffs apply to this industry. Other than licensing requirements (refer to Regulation), there is no protection specifically afforded to this industry. However, government policy can influence real estate activity, such as interest rates; own acquisition, sale and leasing of property; investment in infrastructure; taxes on sales transactions and property investors; and grants to first home buyers. Since September 2007, the regulation on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) has allowed investors to borrow or charge their assets held within their funds to encourage investment diversification in order to mitigate risk. As a consequence, investors are now able
to actively invest in property via SMSFs. In October 2008, the Federal Government announced an initiative to double the First Home Owner Grant on existing property, and triple it for new housing in an attempt to renew spending. The Government doubled the grant for first home buyers from $7,000 to $14,000 on existing property. An extra $14,000 was provided for first home buyers who buy a newly constructed house, taking their grant to $21,000. This incentive for first home buyers boosted revenue for real estate agents, especially in sales of low- to mid-price housing. These grants were phased out and eventually abolished in December 2009 due to budget tightening measures.
Published on Sep 25, 2012