B.C. real estate firm faces licence conditions

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VANCOUVER – The Real Estate Council of British Columbia has issued licence conditions to a Vancouver-area brokerage under investigation for alleged violations of the province’s real estate regulations.

The council says New Coast Realty has agreed to the conditions, which include the appointment of a managing broker approved by the council to conduct all training sessions and licensee supervision.

“In order to ensure the brokerage complies with the Real Estate Services Act, the council has imposed a number of licence conditions that will establish appropriate oversight,” it says in a statement.

The statement says allegations in an article that appears in Saturday’s Globe and Mail have been “a matter of serious concern” for a number of weeks.

As soon as the council was informed by the Globe of a tape recording containing statements of “potentially serious violations” of the act, the council says it launched an investigation though the newspaper did not provide the recording.

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Earlier this week, the council says it met with the owner and legal counsel of New Coast Realty, who provided a tape recording that was reviewed by investigators.

New Coast Realty, based in Richmond, B.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The council says the brokerage is co-operating with the investigation.

The council’s statement, which is dated Friday, says the conditions include that the managing broker must submit monthly reports on any in-house transactions, trust accounts, transactions involving licensees personally, activities of unlicensed assistants and any complaints.

The council will also hold approval of account-signing authorities and require New Coast Realty to provide trade records relating to assignments and commission bonuses. The brokerage must also keep copies of all offers received for properties for inspection by the council.

The council will conduct quarterly audits of New Coast Realty. If it finds non-compliance with the conditions or any other aspects of the act, the council says it will take further action.

“There are a significant number of buyers and sellers with transactions in progress at the brokerage. Those consumers have contractual obligations that they must meet, and the council does not wish to impede the transactions,” said Robert Fawcett, executive officer of the council.

“The conditions that have been agreed to with the brokerage will ensure that those transactions are able to proceed, and that the appropriate controls and oversight will be in place.”

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Any consumers with concerns about transactions at New Coast Realty are asked to contact the council.

The council, which is responsible for overseeing and disciplining real estate agents in B.C., is also awaiting the results of an independent advisory group’s probe into standards of conduct for real estate licensees.

The investigation was announced in February in response to allegations that some realtors were exploiting an assignment clause in contracts that allowed them to repeatedly sell properties, driving up prices and inflating commissions.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

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