Real estate agent numbers recover

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 18:14 01/08/2014

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The number of real estate agents entering or re-entering the industry is on the rise, but public notices of applications will no longer be put in print.

Agent numbers dropped after the global financial crisis, but Real Estate Agents Authority chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith said the number of agents had climbed steadily over the past three years.

There were now nearly 13,000 active licences, up 5 per cent in the past year, he said.

"The average age in the industry's about 51 years, and so each year you'll get a few dropping off, but in the last couple of years we've had a net 1000 increase."

The new licences were evenly spread and not just based in the hot Auckland market, he said.

In response to the rising numbers, the authority is seeking to trim the industry's entry costs by dropping its requirement for aspiring agents to advertise their application in two newspapers.

Would-be agents will instead declare their intentions on the authority's website.

Asked whether this would reduce transparency, Lampen-Smith said it was a practical move.

''There's basically hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent every year by licensees which really wasn't adding much value to the decision we make, which is, is this person a fit and proper person to be given a licence?"

The public were less likely to come across applications by chance, "but I think people should have pretty good comfort in the checks and balances we go through ourselves", he said.

Consumer NZ head Sue Chetwin said she was not too concerned about the public information aspect of the change as long as the authority made sure "from time to time" that the public knew where they could find the details.

Information was inexorably moving online, she said.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said her organisation had objected to agent applications in the past, and the authority's move to centralise the details would make that job easier.

''We actually support it because one of the issues that we've come across is that you can advertise in one of about 35 different publications and some of them don't have particularly wide circulation and almost none of them put all of the classifieds up online," she said.

''So it means that if we as an institute are trying to keep an eye on it and match it to a list of dastardly deeds that occurred under the old regime, it's almost impossible for us to do."

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