End to 'dual agency' among changes to B.C. real estate industry coming into force Friday

B.C.'s superintendent of real estate announced the new rules in September 2017 that would ban "dual agency," after a series of scandals including revelations of "shadow flipping" came to light.

New rules aim to better protect buyers, sellers — but realtor says they won't 'fundamentally shift' industry

Realtors will now have to provide more information to a client up front, at the start of their business relationship. (David Horemans/CBC)

New rules for the B.C. real estate industry come into force Friday and the Real Estate Council of B.C. says those changes will better protect buyers and sellers.

In a statement, the council said the rules will ban the practise of "dual agency," where an agent represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction (though an exception is made for "remote locations underserved by real estate professionals").

The other change is an increase in disclosure: agents will have to provide more information to a client up front, at the start of their business relationship.

That includes information on services provided, fees, possible risks and how a client can file a complaint. When an offer is presented to a seller, the agent must disclose the remuneration they will receive from the sale.

"With these new rules, B.C. consumers can be confident they are receiving clear information to help them make informed decisions, and getting the representation they need to safely navigate real estate transactions," council chair Robert Holmes said in the statement.

B.C.'s superintendent of real estate, Michael Noseworthy, announced in September 2017 that new rules would be imposed banning dual agency after a series of scandals including revelations of "shadow flipping" came to light.

Concern over practices like "dual agency" and "shadow flipping" prompted new rules for the real estate industry in B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Changes a mixed bag

Keith Roy, a realtor with REMAX Select, said there are some things professionals in the industry will like about the new rules, but consumers need to be aware that their relationship with a realtor could change.

He said realtors will now have to show paperwork to a prospective client or get them to sign paperwork before they can provide much information to them.

"The reality is it's just going to result in more frank and curt conversations with the public until the public understands that realtors are now tied … [with regard to] what we can talk about or not talk about," Roy said.

"I think the idea that this is going to fundamentally shift the real estate industry is a bit of a red herring."

For instance, he said, realtors won't be able to ask many questions about a prospective client's motivations, such as why they are moving, when they are moving, what they've seen in the market or their financial position.

He says the idea is to prevent an unscrupulous agent from using that information against a consumer.

Roy said that transparency is an improvement — but there should be more public education on realtors' changing responsibilities.

With files from Deborah Goble

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Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated that the disclosure of an agent's remuneration from a sale would take place at the start of the business relationship between the agent and seller. In fact, disclosure about remuneration would take place at the time of an offer.
    Jun 15, 2018 1:30 PM PT

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