Raine and Horne Coffs Harbour principal, Christine Clarke, is ending her time on the board of directors of the Real Estate Institute of NSW.
Raine and Horne Coffs Harbour principal, Christine Clarke, is ending her time on the board of directors of the Real Estate Institute of NSW.

Christine to remain a voice for real estate industry

LAST week signalled a career milestone for Raine & Horne principal Christine Clarke. Her time as a board member of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) came to an end after reaching the maximum eight years an agent can serve.

Her four terms on the board were the culmination of many previous years serving her industry with the REINSW. She signed up her office with the industry group in 1997.

"I believed it was important to belong to the industry's peak body as a demonstration of our professionalism and as a means of staying abreast of industry trends and changes in legislation," she said.

The same year Christine was elected as the chairwoman of the Coffs Harbour division of the institute, and in 2007 she was appointed to the board, which has representation from all facets of the industry - city, country and regional, as well as property management and strata.

"While the institute is charged with responsibility for the whole state, issues in the country and regions can be quite different to those in the city," Christine said.

"I like to think that I was able to articulate the position of consumers and agents in our area, so that any lobbying of government relating to the property market didn't become totally 'city centric'.

"Along with the other regional directors, I think we succeeded in bringing the country and regional perspective to the debate."

With such a long involvement both on the board and on the ground in the Coffs Coast market, Christine has seen vast changes to her industry.

"The real estate environment has changed significantly in the past eight years, primarily based around the internet and social media. These changes have been rapid, and along with most of the world, the real estate industry has had to adapt at a rapid pace," she said.

Christine said one of her greatest passions while on the board had been highlighting a need for better industry education and training.

"Having been a licensed agent since 1991, from the days when it took three years of training at TAFE, plus two years' in-house training before receiving a licence, I am a committed advocate for agent training. After all, agents are charged with the responsibility of selling people's most valuable asset, and it is fair for consumers to believe that their agent is knowledgeable in all facets of the property transaction, and is competent to be considered a trusted adviser throughout the process," she said.

"Unfortunately the government has seen fit to minimise the education process, experience and knowledge requirements to obtain a licence, and agents can become licensed in as little as five days - hardly a situation to instil consumer confidence in our industry.

"As a board member, I have been vocal in calling for the introduction of educational requirements that will lift the standards of agency practices."

Christine has also worked to lobby for stamp duty reform.

"As property prices rise, this has become a stand-out revenue raiser for the government, whilst proving to be a burden for buyers, or older people wanting to downsize from their family home," she said.

While her time as a REINSW board member has come to a close, Christine doesn't plan on taking a back seat in her industry; in fact she already has a number of irons in the fire on various local committees.

"Next week will see an information session in Coffs Harbour to educate local agents about the new under-quoting legislation that will be introduced on January 1, and in the same week, the Department of Fair Trading will host a reference group in regional areas, including Coffs, to look at a variety of issues affecting the profession. I have been asked to attend, and will particularly raise the issue of education standards in the industry," she said.

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