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Do Real Estate Agents Need to Be Licensed?

Simply having an interest in real estate is not enough to become a professional real estate agent. This is a complex industry that requires years of training and in-depth knowledge of market trends. Real estate agents need to go through the proper avenues of education and must obtain a license after rigorous testing. In Australia, it’s against the law to practice real estate without a license – this includes agents who buy, sell, rent or property manage a home. However, it’s important to note that agents can either have a license or be employed by a licensed real estate agent who acts as their representative.

This is important for any potential buyer or seller to know, when searching for the right real estate agent. Choosing a licensed agent is mandatory, but in many cases you can have an agent’s representative do much of the legwork.

Agent Representatives

A real estate agent is capable of assisting with transactions in Australia if they are licensed or if they represent a fully licenced agent. When an aspiring real estate agent first starts their career path, they will usually complete a short course that qualifies them to become an agent’s representative. This position allows them to learn the ropes and tricks of the trade under the guidance of a fully licensed agent. It allows agent representatives to gain experience, as they are at an entry-level.

Because they are learning how the real estate industry works; an agent’s representative will be watched carefully by their fully licensed agent. They may perform a variety of tasks during this time which will help give them the experience needed to further their career. To become an agent’s representative at, for example, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (the REIV), the individual must fulfil a long list of requirements devised by the Business Licensing Authority such as passing a related course of study and finding a licenced real estate agent who believes in them enough to act as an authority. Remember, although representatives are considered to be at the entry-level of the real estate industry, they will have already studied intensively to get to that point and launch their career.

Fully Licensed Real Estate Agents

To become fully licensed, real estate agents must fulfil an even more extensive set of criteria outlined by the State Government. The license system was originally put in place to help protect consumers. Most people who buy or sell a home will not have the technical knowledge necessary to do so. But, by working with licensed real estate agents; they will benefit from the expertise of professionals who have a solid comprehension of the regulatory requirements and legislation and be safe in the knowledge that the agent is licenced by a higher authority.

Fully licensed real estate agents are capable of owning or managing an agency. They are also legally entitled to act as auctioneers. A licenced Agent has had to undertake a much more detailed course of study, including topics such as trust accounting, business finance, leasing, auctions, and marketing practices. Furthermore, aspiring licensed agents must already have at least one year of experience as an agent’s representative.

Real Estate Associations

In addition to having a license, many high quality real estate agents are also members of professional real estate associations. Each of these associations may have its own rules of membership, which the agents must abide by. These rules may vary by state. For example, agents who wish to become members of the REIV, must follow that particular association’s Code of Conduct and Rules of Practice. This includes abiding by altruistic motives and strict ethical standards. Real Estate agents who are members of an association must also continue to take education courses.< If you live in Victoria and choose to work with a real estate agent who is a member of the REIV, you therefore have the assurance that your agent is dedicated to furthering his or her own technical knowledge as well as upholding high moral and ethical standards. This is just one example of a professional real estate association, however, there are numerous associations with different membership requirements. Another requirement for membership into many real estate associations is professional indemnity insurance which helps protect you throughout the real estate transaction and is considered essential by many professionals. Estate agents who are members of these associations will usually have access to members-only property databases, which can give them added knowledge of your local market. Most licensed real estate agents will be members of professional associations and follow the guidelines set forth by them. If you’re looking at a potential real estate agent who doesn’t belong to any of these associations, you may want to ask them why that’s the case.

Specialist Knowledge

As mentioned above, members of the REIV must participate in the annual Continuing Professional Development program to further their skills and knowledge of the real estate industry. Many other professional associations have similar requirements. It takes a great deal of perseverance to be a fully licensed real estate agent in Australia. As you compare potential real estate agents, find out not only what associations they are part of and whether or not they are licensed, but also if they have completed any specialist accreditations.

Real estate agents can choose niche areas of the market to specialise in, which may make them more suited to your particular needs. For example, some may have specialised accreditation for property management, auction management, or valuations.

Why Licenses are Important

There are numerous benefits to choosing a real estate agent who is licensed and also a member of a professional association. Licensed real estate agents are up to date with current real estate legislation and know how any recent changes could impact the industry as a whole as well as your property. Real estate agents who are members of an association have access to government departments and regulatory bodies. They are kept in check by the guidelines of these regulatory bodies, so if a real estate agent makes a poor decision or acts unethically, he or she will be disciplined.

As you start the process of finding the right real estate agent to meet your needs, you’ll want to make sure that they are licensed – it’s illegal not to. Yet looking for an agent who is also part of a real estate association indicates that they adhere to a strict, ethical code of conduct and will always keep this in mind as they strive for customer satisfaction.

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