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New real estate regulator gets to work in New Zealand with aim of making industry more professional

It is the beginning of a new era of accountability for the industry, according to Kirsty McDonald, chairwoman of the new Real Estate Agents Authority.

‘Professionalism implies a high level of competence, clear and good communication, honesty, integrity and accountability.

Enhanced professionalism in the real estate industry will bring it in line with what is required of other more traditional occupations,’ she said.

‘Buying or selling a house is the biggest expense many of us will ever undertake and it is crucial that vendors and buyers have complete trust in the industry and the process. People's livelihoods are at stake,’ she added.

The authority was established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 with the aim of providing consumer protection, raising industry standards and increasing public confidence in the performance of real estate agency work.

The Act includes a range of new measures forthcoming including an independent and transparent complaints process, a compulsory code of conduct, required consumer information, and improved training.

A licensing procedure has already been introduced.

All those working in the real estate industry need to be licensed and to have met the required qualification standards with their names recorded on a publicly accessible register so that consumers can check if the person they are dealing with is licensed and whether they have been subject to any recent disciplinary action.

McDonald said it is a very exciting time for the country’s real estate industry and that feedback has been positive.

‘There is a willingness to work with the authority to raise professional standards and improve public confidence in the industry,’ she explained.

‘This is the beginning of a new way of working with the real estate industry and new protections for consumers.

My expectation is that we will develop a model agency; one that will be the template for future regulatory bodies,’ she added.