B.C.'s superintendent of real estate is imposing tough new rules that would see the end of agents representing a buyer and a seller in a transaction, an arrangement known as dual agency.
Michael Noseworthy is responsible for the oversight of B.C.'s 22,000 Realtors, and, in his position as superintendent, has been calling for a 'huge reset' in how the real estate profession is regulated.
After a series of scandals rocked the real estate industry early in 2016, with stories of so-called shadow-flipping and other questionable practices, the province ended self-regulation by B.C.'s Real Estate Council and appointed Noseworthy as superintendent to oversee the council.
The B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA) says just five per cent of its membership acts for the buyer and seller and that usually happens in smaller towns, where there are fewer real estate agents compared to larger urban areas.
New rules 'take choice away'
Robert Laing, the CEO of the BCREA, said when people are dealing with what is likely the biggest financial transactions of their lives, they should have the right to designate who represents them.
"We're not happy with the changes," said Laing. "We take the position that consumers should be able to choose who they wish to represent them in real estate transactions. What this rule is doing is taking that choice away."
The superintendent is proposing exemptions — but only in remote locations.
Despite the tough new rules, it appears there are still ways to get around them.
"There are ways to have you work with someone on a one-off, " said University of British Columbia professor Tsur Sommerville.
"Let's say you're the seller's agent — and there's a buyer who's really interested and is using the same person ... they can have someone in their office service their representative or some other Realtor that they know."
B.C. is the only province to enact this kind of restriction.
The changes are effective Jan. 15, 2018.