Consumer connection the focus as Real Estate Industry Partners announce new CEO

A group comprising some of the industry’s largest agencies is seeking to better connect the real estate sector with consumers, announcing the appointment of Sadhana Smiles as the new CEO of Real Estate Industry Partners (REIP).

First established about three years ago, REIP includes some of the sector’s biggest brands and independent agencies.

Now they’re looking to improve the profile of the industry by working alongside the national and state real estate industry (REI) bodies to offer a unified national voice at a consumer, industry, and government level.

Set to commence the role on September 22, Ms Smiles said the future focus of the REIP would involve growing relationships with clients, and providing more opportunities to industry stakeholders.

“We will be advocating to ensure there is a strong voice to consumers on behalf of the industry,” she said.

“We will also work in conjunction with the REIs to provide a strong national leadership body that advocates at a state and federal level.”

Ms Smiles continued the REIs do a “great job” of educating the industry, and she envisaged the REIP would work in partnership with them.

“It would be a collaboration and a way to provide better opportunities to individuals, the industry as a whole, and a better connection with the consumer.”

She noted the recent landscape of COVID-19 had highlighted the fact the industry needed a national voice when communicating with consumers.

“Over the past few months there have been so many issues affecting real estate customers like the moratorium on evictions, social distancing and inspections, and online auctions.

“The industry was impacted greatly and really needed a national voice to explain to consumers what was going on in a bid to remove ambiguity and stress.”

Ms Smiles also noted the group would focus on improving the reputation and stature of the industry overall.

“Real estate is a busines that underpins the Australian economy. Everyone talks about property, whether it’s interest rates, the auction clearance rate, or their desire to get into their own home.

“But when you mention you’re a real estate agent, it’s the third least trusted profession in the country, and we need to ask why.

“It’s not because we’re not needed, it’s to do with transparency and how we educate consumers about the real estate process.

“This is one of the big issues that we will be looking to tackle in a bid to connect the industry with our customers and have a conversation about real estate as a trusted advisor.”

Ms Smiles said issues like industry credentials, standards, and training would be on the REIP agenda as part of this discussion.

“For years it’s been the case that people do a three-day course and can sell property. We need to review these standards and have a conversation about whether a better level of education and accountability is required.”

The REIP group currently includes the likes of Ray White, Harcourts, C21, PRD Nationwide, ReMax, Belle Property, Raine & Horne, Coronis and Place as well as many others such as LJ Hooker, Barry Plant, Fletchers, Buxtons, Acton, Morton & Morton, Jellis Craig, O’Brien Real Estate, Marshall White, and Elders, who are members rather than shareholders/directors.

Ms Smiles described the group’s purpose as “altruistic” with an emphasis on making a difference in the industry.

“In many ways it’s like a brains trust that looks at how we can work together to better the industry and create an improved playing field,” she said.

REIP Director Mike Green said the appointment of a CEO was part of the REIP board’s focus on steering toward industry unity through leadership, advocacy, and raising the standards.

“Having worked with Sadhana over a number of years gives me the greatest confidence that she will offer an instrumental voice in the industry,” he said.

“Speaking on behalf of the board, we are very excited for this new opportunity to work together.”

Ms Smiles started her career as a real estate receptionist in the early 90s, with a vision of making a name for herself in the Australian real estate industry.

Over the years she has worked with brands including the Harcourts Group, relocating nationally to fulfill her duties within different leadership positions.

Ms Smiles has also worked in multi-faceted roles across Australia and New Zealand, with connections in USA and South Africa.

“I am truly excited to take on this leadership role with REIP – a company which shares my principles and values,” she said.

“I am confident we will make a significant impact on the industry, especially during times of uncertainty and change, such as our present-day challenges.”

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.