VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province has dropped the hammer on the BC real estate industry.
Premier Christy Clark says the industry had 10 years to self-regulate itself and failed to do so.
She called the practice a privilege, not a right.
“After reading the report, our conclusion is that the privilege of self-regulation in the real estate industry must end,” Clark said in a statement.
Shady practices are putting consumers at risk and tarnishing the reputations of honest agents, she added.
The Real Estate Council of BC created the advisory group in February amid concerns about predatory sales tactics and allegations that some agents were deceiving clients in order to rack up larger commissions.
The group’s report suggested prohibiting a single agent from representing both buyers and sellers in a single transaction, having any profits received from misconduct returned to the client, and creating a confidential whistleblower hotline.
It also recommended the province hike the maximum misconduct fines to $250,000 for individual Realtors and $500,000 for brokerages a significant increase from current maximum fines of $10,000 and $20,000.
A government release said the province accepts the recommendations and will implement the new penalties.
It will also revamp the real estate council, which is currently made up of 14 industry members and three government employees, by replacing a majority of the members with people from outside of the industry.
The government says it will also also accept the recommendations of the independent advisory group and will:
- Establish a dedicated superintendent of real estate, who will take over the council’s regulation- and rule-making authority to carry out the changes required to restore public confidence.
- Reconstitute the Real Estate Council with a majority of public-interest, non-industry members.
- Implement the recommended penalties, as well as increased fines for unlicensed activity and other offences.
- Allow for commissions from licensees engaging in misconduct to be taken back to the council.
- Make the managing broker responsible for ensuring the owner of the brokerage does not engage in the business of the brokerage if the owner is not a licensee.
- No longer permit licensees to offer dual agency representation.
“As I said when we released the final report of the Independent Advisory Group yesterday, the decision on whether or not to continue with self-regulation, belonged to government. Our report provided an analysis of the current environment and the recommendations we determined were necessary to improve the regulatory regime to better protect the public. I am very pleased to hear that government plans to implement all of the recommendations and I’m also pleased to hear that they will establish a dedicated Superintendent of Real Estate. These are positive steps for consumer protection in BC. My office will work with the Government as it moves to implement these changes.”