Should West Australian settlement agents and land valuers’ fees be deregulated?

Should West Australian settlement agents and land valuers’ fees be deregulated?
Should West Australian settlement agents and land valuers’ fees be deregulated?

A proposal to deregulate fees charged by settlement agents and land valuers in Western Australia has Consumer Protection calling for comment.

This would be a move to bring Western Australia back in line with all the other states in Australia, as they are currently the only state to fix a maximum amount that these experts can charge for their services.

With 660 licensed settlement agents, and 840 land valuers, across the state it could help competition and red tape reduction if the fee schedule is removed, according to Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe.

The other states, where there is not this level of regulation, competition is what keeps charges low. Newcombe said that, as a result, having a mandated maximum is unnecessary.

“In fact, discounting by settlement agents and land valuers in WA’s competitive market often means that fees well below the maximum allowed are being charged, demonstrating that there is little benefit to consumers and further cementing the case for deregulation,” he said.

“If fees were to be deregulated, there would be a provision for consumers to be provided with information about the fees being charged that would help them assess the services being offered and make an informed choice about service providers.”

The deregulation of fees for real estate and business agents, which occurred in 1998, will be the modelling for this legislation. At the time, there were no adverse effects recorded.

“Consumers would continue to be protected by the Australian Consumer Law and industry professional standards would be maintained by the licensing and codes of conduct obligations placed on settlement agents and land valuers which will remain firmly in place, regardless of any fee deregulation,” he said.

Comments can be made until 31 July 2014.

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Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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Consumer Affairs Western Australia Industry News

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