New rules designed to protect consumers in B.C.’s real estate market will take effect on Friday.
Under the changes, which will be enforced by the Real Estate Council of B.C., realtors and real estate agents will be banned from “dual agency” — representing both the buyer and the seller in a transaction — in nearly all cases.
An exception to that rule will apply to extremely remote locations poorly served by realtors.
New, enhanced disclosure rules will also take effect, which require real estate agents to give consumers more information about who the seller is, agent commissions and brokerage fees, potential risks, and where to go in the event of a complaint.
Real estate licensees will also be required to take a mandatory course on the new rules through UBC’s Sauder School of Business in order to renew their licences.
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Superintendent of real estate Michael Noseworthy said the changes will increase transparency around commissions, and who is being represented in a deal.
“These changes have been designed to reinforce a real estate agent’s duties and obligations to their clients, and to ensure that agents are always acting in their client’s best interests,” he said in a statement.
“We want to make sure that the advice consumers receive is solely for their benefit, and that consumers have confidence that their agent is undoubtedly on their side.”
James Palanio, with the B.C. Real Estate Association, says his group’s members have no issue with the rule changes, but need more time.
“Our commitment is to serving customers with professionalism and integrity, and in order to do that we must be well educated and completely aware how these changes are going to affect us and our client,” he told Global News.
Palanio said even a 60-day grace period would help.
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BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver agreed, and is calling on the province to delay the rollout of the new rules.
Weaver said he’s hearing from many people in the industry that they haven’t been properly trained on the new regulations yet.
“I have a lot of sympathy for the realtors in this particular case because there are substantive rule changes,” Weaver said.
“I heard today [of] a person [who] attended two training sessions and was given conflicting and opposite information in both sessions. So it’s somewhat chaotic out there and that is not good for certainty in consumer-realtor relations.”
The new rules mark the latest reforms applied to B.C.’s real estate sector amid concerns of bad-faith dealing in its white-hot real estate market.
In 2016, the former BC Liberal government ended the self-regulation of the industry, absorbing the Real Estate Council of B.C. and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate into the provincial government.
The province has subsequently hiked maximum fines for real estate misconduct to $250,000.
A new review of B.C.’s real estate regulatory regime is also underway, with a final report due on Friday.
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