British Columbia

James Sidney Parsons, Victoria Realtor, accused of conduct unbecoming

A Victoria Realtor who helped a mentally ill client buy a leaky condo listed by his son is facing a five-year licence cancellation by B.C.'s real estate council.

Realtor appealing a 5-year licence cancellation for helping mentally ill woman buy leaky condo

Jim Parsons, a veteran Victoria Realtor who helped a mentally ill client buy a leaky condo listed by his son, is facing a five-year licence cancellation by the Real Estate Council of B.C.

The Realtor claims a tent will be the only property he can afford if he loses his appeal of one of the longest suspensions ever ordered by the real estate council: five years for conduct unbecoming.

The 69-year-old allegedly let a mentally ill client waive a property inspection to buy a leaky condo. The condo was listed by Parsons's son.

It's not as bad as it sounds, he says.

"I'm not arguing about the fact that she had a history of mental illness," he says. "I'm just saying that I didn't know about it."

'Extremely low standard'

But the real estate council found otherwise, choosing to accept the client's version of events in a decision posted last month.

"The committee found that Mr. Parsons' conduct was of an extremely low standard. His callous disregard for his client's interest, his dishonesty, and his failure to meet even the most basic requirements of a licensee were independently deserving of a severe penalty," the decision reads.

"He failed to meet even the most basic of duties owed to his client, and ultimately caused significant financial harm to his client who was in a vulnerable position."

The council wants Parsons' licence cancelled for at least five years. The penalty has been stayed, pending the outcome of his appeal to B.C.'s Financial Services Tribunal. 

The woman — who is not named in the decision — filed her complaint in 2013, more than six years after she first met Parsons through a newspaper advertisement.

She was going through a marital breakup and looking for a home for herself and her teenage daughter. The decision centres around two purchase offers the woman made with Parsons.

Suicidal client

The woman, a high school teacher, was admitted as an inpatient at a psychiatric facility for contemplating suicide days after putting an offer on the first property.

The deal ultimately fell through, but the council found Parsons must have learned his client was mentally ill at that time, because his daughter picked up a deposit cheque from her at the hospital.

A month later, the woman waived a property inspection to buy another condo in a deal that closed in three days.

She testified she didn't realize the listing Realtor was Parsons' son; Parsons himself was the original Realtor on the property, but gave the listing to his son, who had just received his real estate licence.

The woman paid $180,000 for the condo, but was slapped with a remediation bill for $59,597.86 within months. 

According to the decision, she didn't receive documents that might have indicated she was buying a leaky condo before removing the subjects on her offer.

The council found Parsons had read the reports, but didn't share their contents with his client.

"From these documents it was clear that the … property may be a 'leaky condo,'" the decision reads.

"Had [she] had the benefit of any of the … documents beforehand or if Mr. Parsons had discussed the contents of the documents with her, the committee accepted that she would not have removed her subjects."

Not a conflict

Parsons disputes almost every aspect of the committee's findings. And he says he has paid for — and passed — his own lie detector test.

He says he didn't know the woman was mentally ill until after the second offer.

He also says there was no indication from the records on the leaky condo that repairs were imminent.

And he says he wasn't in a conflict of interest with his son.

"I told her that my son was the listing Realtor," he says. "That's not a conflict of interest. He happened to be the listing Realtor."

In addition to cancelling Parsons's licence for five years, the council also wants to fine him $32,000. 

Parsons says the penalty is excessive. No date has been set for his appeal.


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