Nothing was being done to stop unscrupulous real estate practices, B.C. finance minister says

“Realtor after Realtor would say, ‘Yeah, I knew there was some of this bad stuff going on,’ but no one did anything about it. No one," said Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

Finance minister says ‘Realtor after Realtor’ would say there were problems, but nothing was done about it

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says the vast majority of Realtors are ethical, but said some were falling outside of those parameters and yet the Real Estate Council of B.C. was doing nothing to stop them. (CBC)

The provincial government ended self regulation for the B.C. real estate industry because the evidence was pointing to the fact that the industry wasn't regulating itself, says B.C.'s finance minister.

On June 30, the government announced that the right to regulate the industry would be taken away from the Real Estate Council of B.C. and put into the hands of a newly established and dedicated superintendent of real estate.

The announcement came a day after a special advisory group issued a damning report with 28 recommendations for how the council should improve its oversight ability — but the panel was not asked to consider independent regulation.

'No one called them out'

When asked what was the last straw for the province, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said there were several reasons, but the "most troubling" finding of the report was that there was a lack of action on the part of the council when it appeared many knew some Realtors were engaging in unscrupulous practices.

"As [the panel] did their work, as they spoke to Realtors — and this is consistent with what I've found myself — Realtor after Realtor would say, 'Yeah, I knew there was some of this bad stuff going on, but no one did anything about it. No one," de Jong told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"The report also does say  the vast majority of Realtors do conduct themselves with integrity, are ethical and provide good service to their clients.

"Regrettably, a growing number fell outside of that category, and I think the real sting here is no one called them on that. And that is the underlying principle of self regulation and why this step has been taken."

Lack of reporting is 'frustrating': REBGV

Don Morrison, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said it is a "big frustration" that more Realtors have not come forward to report shady practices they may have seen among their peers.

"We count on our members to report misdeeds and people that are doing things incorrectly," Morrison said.

"I don't think it's just our profession. People are reluctant to turn in their comrades or peers or people they're doing business with everyday. But ... we have an obligation to do that in our profession. That's the only way we're going to ever deal with the ... bad apples."

Morrison said that it is hard to deal with misconduct if there is only anecdotal evidence about it. He said that, for example, he hadn't heard much about the practice of 'shadow flipping' until the media reported on it.

"Whether it's the public reporting to the [Real Estate] Council, or the Realtors reporting to us, if nobody's reporting it, it's hard for us to make the changes necessary or to do the investigations necessary for us to respond."

Morrison said the REBGV, which represents more than 12,800 realtors in the region, welcomes the recommendations from the independent advisory panel and is looking forward to working with the new superintendent.

With files from CBC's The Early Edition


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