Cybersecurity a top concern for real estate sector

Agents concerned about the economic and reputational impacts of cyber issues

Cybersecurity a top concern for real estate sector

Cybersecurity issues are a top concern for the real estate industry, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s contribution to the government’s Cyber Security Strategy Discussion Paper.

Preliminary insights from REIA showed that most agents are very concerned about the economic and reputational implications of cyber issues.

The Cyber Security Strategy Discussion Paper is part of an effort to develop a cybersecurity strategy for Australia, announced in December by Minister for Cyber Security Clare O’Neil.

REIA president Hayden Groves said the industry recognises that more needs to be done in relation to cybersecurity – and that governments need to provide support to the sector.

“Agencies employ 130,000 Australians and the Australian property industry is worth $300 billion annually to the Australian economy as a measure of GDP,” Groves said. “Cybersecurity is a front-of-mind issue for real estate businesses in Australia, recognised as a growing economic and reputational threat. Awareness was heightened with high-profile businesses like Optus and Medibank being hacked in October 2022.”

In a December survey of REIA membership, cybersecurity ranked third on a list of 27 concerns for real estate professionals.

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“Deeper insights show that 78% of real estate business owners continue to be concerned about the threat of cyber attacks, with real estate companies of all sizes suffering over the past 12 months at an average cost of $34,442 to medium-sized enterprises,” Groves said. “At the4 same time, 30% of agencies surveyed nominated issues relating to data privacy and security as a barrier to implementing new technology.”

Groves pointed out that although real estate is a large segment of the Australian economy, it’s made up almost entirely of small businesses.

“To put this in perspective, there are 44,000 Australian real estate agencies Australia-wide, with 99% of these being small businesses,” he said.

At the same time, the real estate sector’s outreach is enormous, including:

  • 6.9 million Australians helped to buy or rent each year
  • $350 billion in home sales settled in the last recorded financial period
  • $78 billion in rent receipts each year
  • $3 trillion in rental assets under management
  • Total residential real estate asset value of $9.3 trillion
  • Total commercial real estate asset value of about $1 trillion

“Be it home sales, residential or commercial rents, or larger-scale commercial and residential transactions, real estate businesses have both a large financial role, as well as a very substantial personal protected information (PPI) role across buyers, sellers, tenants, investors and any other parties,” Groves said. “Cybersecurity protection is crucial to the real estate industry and all Australians need to know they are protected.”

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