Deregulating settlement agent and land valuer fees
Consumer Protection is calling for community and industry comment on a proposal to deregulate the fees charged by settlement agents and land valuers in WA.
Currently WA is the only state to fix a maximum amount that settlement agents and land valuers can charge for their services. There are currently about 660 licensed settlement agents and 840 licensed land valuers in WA.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said to scrap the fee schedule in the relevant legislation would promote competition and reduce red tape for business.
“In other states where there is no such regulation, competition acts to keep charges low for consumers so the reality is that having a mandated maximum fee is unnecessary,” Mr Newcombe said.
“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.
“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.
“This requirement will be modelled on the type of information that must be provided following the deregulation of fees for real estate and business agents in 1998. This deregulation saw no adverse effects for consumers while removing the cost burden of regulation for both business and Government.
“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.”
A position paper has been released outlining the case for deregulation and comments are invited from consumers and industry participants before action is taken on this proposal. It can be downloaded from the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consultations. A short survey is also available.
The deadline for submissions, comments and survey results is Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 5pm.
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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