Courageous Conversations: How Anna Neelagama became the industry’s greatest advocate, and why she has single licensing, the PM skills shortage and sector recognition firmly in her sights

After two years in the role of REIA CEO, Anna Neelagama discusses how far the industry has come, the major challenges that lie ahead, and how the REIA intends to address them.

After two years in the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, Anna Neelagama discusses how far the industry has come, the major challenges that lie ahead, and how the REIA intends to address them.

When Anna Neelagama took on the position of REIA CEO, little did she realise a pandemic would promptly see her plunged into unchartered real estate waters.

Closed borders, rental moratoriums and social distancing all saw the industry in the spotlight while both sales agents and property managers were grappling with constantly shifting legislation and the very real challenge of trying to secure a roof over people’s heads.

In this Courageous Conversation, Anna discusses her real estate baptism of fire and how she went from someone with no inside experience of the industry to advocating the sector’s needs on the national stage.

She talks about how, in the wake of Covid, the exodus of property managers has emerged as the single biggest challenge facing the industry and what the REIA is doing to assist.

Anna also looks at the age-old issue of a single rule book for agents across the country, noting this is an issue dating back to the REIA’s inception almost a century ago.

But now, 100 years later, she explains the REIA is finally making progress, and offers an insight into exactly how that’s being achieved, and why it’s not been as simple as many might believe.

Anna also examines how the industry can showcase the critical role agents and property managers play and why people need to appreciate that buying or selling property ranks alongside all the major life milestones.

She shares what she has been surprised to learn since taking on the sector’s top job, and looks at why she remains inspired to be the industry’s most passionate advocate.

“The reality is we have made an extraordinary amount of progress. The institutes themselves are very much on the same page when it comes to standards of training, of licensing and of on-the-job compliance. So the industry leads with that regard. The regulators simply haven’t caught up. And what we’d like is for state and federal governments to come to the party and meet us there” – Anna Neelagama.

Leanne and Anna also discuss:

  • Why Anna wanted to advocate for the real estate industry and how she embraced the role of REIA CEO through an immersive process that culminated in a 100-day plan.
  • Why having no experience inside the industry proved an advantage and how it helped Anna identify industry opportunity.
  • What the REIA has accomplished in the two years since she took on the role, and how they are helping address issues like single-licensing and the skill shortage in property management.
  • Why the exodus of skilled property managers is the single biggest issue facing the industry and how PMs should be recognized for bearing the brunt of enforcing legislation during a pandemic
  • How the REIA is working towards single licensing and why it’s been an issue on the industry body’s agenda for almost a century, but is now close to coming to fruition.  
  • How single licensing will work and why it’s a lot like driver’s licences, which are standardised via national technology.
  • Why the real estate industry is setting the bar when it comes to good practice and proactive initiatives, but the government now needs to come to the party.
  • Why real estate professionals and the job they do needs to be better promoted to the public and how the REIA intends to tackle this in the future.

And much, much more…

Anna Neelagama on Elite Agent

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.


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