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Property Agents & Land Transactions Amendment Bill (No 53) of 2019

Thursday 12 November 2020

Second reading speech

[12.13 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, first, I should say as a former real estate agent that I support this bill. I also take on board the comments of the member for Pembroke and I think she made a very good suggestion. It is a minor and small bill. Obviously the substantial rewrite in 2016, as was mentioned by the member for McIntyre, has gone a long way to improving the situation.

It is not a long bill with lots of complexities. As was mentioned today in the briefings, the key aspects of the bill, the clarity and the interpretation section - I mean, everyone in the industry needs to have a licence. I always believed that was the case, anyway. I do not think there would be too many businesses that would take you on if you did not have a licence and it was very important that we had a current licence as well when we were operating.

It sets out the qualifications a real estate agent is required to have and the change in training packages and the underlying training in recent times and allowing the board to set them. I think it is important that they can add and make changes as necessary but the power sits with the board. Also the board is required to keep a register and the information on that is that it be a business address and not a private address.

I probably disagree somewhat with the member for McIntyre that in Tasmania everyone knows where you live. You would hope that is not the case and I know on many occasions, particularly with different jobs like ours and police and others, it is important that people do not know where you live, particularly if they have a little bit of a gripe with you; the last thing you want is them turning up at your door.

Mr Valentine - Mind you, we have to put our address on our posters.

Ms ARMITAGE - Well, we actually do not have to put our address on our posters. We have to put the address of who is authorising us on our posters but not our own address.

Mr Valentine - I authorise my own.

Ms ARMITAGE - However, I must admit, a few years ago - just digressing a little - when a tree fell on my house, the Examiner actually gave my full address in the paper without asking me, which was a little unfortunate, so now most people do know where I live. Apart from that, I agree with the recommendations in this bill.

As to disclosure, I probably differ a little bit with the member for McIntyre in this. The Leader or the Deputy Leader will correct me if I am wrong through the department or the advisers, but I do not believe that the onus is on the real estate agent to examine things like the boundaries and whether a fence is in the right place. Obviously some owners may know, but from having sold real estate I know there are occasions when no-one has discovered a problem until a prospective buyer has gone to the council and made some inquiries.

When people buy a property, it says they must or should check and measure their boundaries before they pay their money and it should be subject to whatever and they should do their council investigations, but I believe the majority of people do not measure their boundaries; they assume that they are right and do not check many of those things with council. If they like the house, they simply buy it and trust that everything is according to how it should be.

It really is not something, in my memory as a real estate agent, that you would go onto the title. The most you would do is go onto LIST to look at the size of the house, when it was built and what it was last sold for to try to determine an actual price.

Mr Valentine - A valuer might when they are doing the valuation for a bank.

Ms ARMITAGE - The valuer might, but in this bill we are talking about the real estate agent and the disclosure that they have, so the valuer is not really going to come back. It is about the onus, in my opinion. I look at this probably a little differently to the member for McIntyre when she was talking about disclosure. I would think it is more if you know that the property has a defect, you know that it has rising damp or needs underpinning or an issue such as that, it should be disclosed, but many times an owner will not tell the real estate agent. That is why it comes back to buyer beware. You advise most buyers to get a building inspector to check it.

I know real estate agents are on the very bottom of the list. I was a real estate agent and was told I was near the bottom and now I am a politician I am on the bottom, so I have gone a step down rather than a step up.

We have to be fair as well. It is difficult for real estate agents selling properties to try to ensure that they know everything about the property. Many people might say, as was mentioned for a Sydney buyer, that a property might be close to Derby. Well, in someone's mind, 25 minutes might be close to Derby and in someone else's mind it might not be.

Ms Rattray - I took your point with regard to that.

Ms ARMITAGE - I did hear that, but I think the onus really is on the buyer. Most of us would do a Google search and put in one destination from the other and see how far it is. It might come up 10 minutes or might come up 25, so I think many times the onus is on the buyer.

I see the changes to the bill as certainly worthwhile. They make some good alterations. It is a housekeeping bill. It is good to see that there was consultation with the property agents and also with REIT, who obviously have very big interest and it is certainly the go-to body; particularly for an agent involved in real estate, the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania is very important.

I certainly support the bill before us, but I take on board the comments of the member for Pembroke. They are certainly well worth the Government considering in the future.


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