The Real Estate Agents Authority has said its system is not overloaded as it faces controversy for proposing to increase the costs to real estate agents to become licensed from $465 a year to $790.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said it could not support the rise and was concerned, but the Real Estate Agents Authority chief executive Margaret Steel said this amount was less than was actually needed.
“The authority had initially estimated a levy of $928 per licensee would be required to recover from its first year deficit in its second year of operation,” Ms Steel said.
“At this time, the authority believes $928 per licensee to be too high. By reducing the proposed levy by nearly $200, to $760, the authority will take three years to recover from its first year operating deficit, instead of one.”
The bulk of its income is from real estate agents renewing their licenses by March every year but with the financial year ending in June, it can only include 25% of its income in the financial year those fees are paid with the balance deferred to the subsequent financial year.
Ms Steel has said the authority was not stressed despite the large number of complaints it had received. Since it came into power in November the industry watchdog has received nearly 700 complaints, 250 of which it has made decisions on.
“The authority was alarmed to hear that according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, our system had been overloaded as a result of the number of submissions being received. This is not correct,” Ms Steel said.
“The authority's system and submission management process are and have been working just fine. So far, just over 2000 submissions have been received from licensees, consumers and others interested in the real estate industry. Those submissions have been counted and filed and we have already been able to undertake some initial analysis.”
The average cost for processing each complaint is $3600, with an additional $2,700 for each its complaints assessment committee decides to investigate.
The proposed fee hike is not its first brush with controversy. Its chief executive Janet Meziner quit just six months into the job in July and its registrar Margaret Steel has been acting in the head role until a replacement is found, and one of its senior staff Jon Moss is being investigated for criminal behaviour by the police.
Thu, 14 Oct 2010