It highlighted key trends of its regulatory work with the sector
The Real Estate Authority (REA) has released its annual report covering the 2020/21 financial year.
In the report, REA Chair Denese Bates described the 2020/21 financial year as a challenging year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a highly pressured real estate sector. On the bright side, the regulator had risen to the challenge, supporting “high levels of professionalism in the sector and reduced harm to consumers.”
“The 2020/21 Annual Report shows the positive impact REA is making in the lives of everyday New Zealanders by educating licensed real estate professionals, informing consumers, and protecting buyers and sellers from harm during real estate transactions,” Bates said.
In the report, REA highlighted the key trends in all areas of its work with the real estate sector, such as:
- 2,597 new licences issued (up 54% from 1,687 in 2020/21);
- 22,603 phone calls received by REA (up 5% from 21,510);
- 1,664 complaint enquiries received (up 38% from 1,204);
- 320 formal complaints received (up 13% from 284);
- 105 Complaints Assessment Committee decisions issued;
- 182 complaints through the early resolution process resolved;
- 48% consumer awareness of REA (up from 39%); and
- 1,022,602 visits to settled.govt.nz (up 11%).
Regarding the complaints, REA Chief Executive Belinda Moffat said the regulator was not surprised that complaint numbers rose in the latest financial year, given the heightened activity and pressure in the market and a greater awareness of REA's role as industry regulator.
Despite the increase in complaints, REA's surveys showed that customer satisfaction with the regulator's services remained high:
- 81% of licensees agreed that continuing professional development programme overseen by REA had improved their knowledge and understanding;
- 94% found REA's compliance guidance useful; and
- 77% of participants in the REA complaints process agreed the process was independent, fair, and transparent.
“As the conduct regulator of the real estate profession, we aim to promote and protect the interests of consumers, and through our work raise confidence in real estate agency work in New Zealand,” Moffat said.
REA encourages consumers with real estate transaction concerns to contact the regulator to identify potential causes of harm and help the staff to develop strategies to enable real estate professionals to prevent and mitigate the risk of consumer harm.
“Equally, our team is able to provide information to consumers to help them understand the real estate process and alleviate concerns and resolve issues before harm occurs,” Moffat said.