March 25, 2016 6:20 pm
Updated: August 4, 2016 8:13 pm

Max penalty for unethical Vancouver realtors to triple to $30,000

WATCH: Vancouver realtors who break the rules will soon be slapped with stiffer fines. Jennifer Palma explains why, and why some question if this will do any good.

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Another week of finger-pointing in Vancouver’s affordability debate ended with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver announcing a tripling of the maximum fine for realtor misconduct.

“We are as concerned about this as the public. We want to find the bad apples,” said REBGV president Dan Morrison, who said the maximum fine would jump from $10,000 to $30,000.

“The penalty of $10,000 is almost becoming the cost of doing business to some people. We need to raise that, because it’s not much of a deterrent right now.”

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The announcement came after a vote approved by over 80 per cent of REBGV members at their annual general meeting, 18 months after the issue was first raised within the organization.

But it also came on the same week outgoing REBGV President Darcy McLeod wrote a letter to Premier Christy Clark, critical of her announcement the government would end the controversial practice of shadow flipping before a review into it had finished.

READ MORE: BC Government ends practice of shadow flipping in Vancouver real estate

“We are concerned that the provincial government is looking to change the rules to fix a short-term problem,” wrote McLeod.

“The housing affordability debate in Metro Vancouver is at a fever pitch today. It’s become emotional and political. Amid this climate, it’s important to remember that market cycles come and go, but government intervention is permanent.”

Morrison said the current environment was creating an unfair perception realtors in Vancouver are acting unethically.

“Nobody is more passionate about finding people that are doing things wrong, [and them] being discovered, investigated and penalized for it. It reflects badly on us,” he said, calling reports of shadow flipping “all anecdotal evidence right now and heresay.”

READ MORE: Vancouver sets housing price record for February

But NDP housing critic David Eby says the new fines, while a positive step, don’t go far enough.

“When real estate agents are lowballing seniors this way, trying to scam them for the value of their homes, a $30,000 fee might not be an adequate deterrent to make sure this isn’t happening,” said Eby.

“When realtors are caught engaging in this type of conduct, they really do need to lose their licence, period.

“There are a lot of hard-working realtors, I don’t want to paint them all with the same brush, and they’re as outraged as I am.”

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