Updated rules crack down on unethical realtors

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For the first time in almost 20 years, the Ontario government is updating the province’s real estate rules with the expressed intent of providing better consumer protection and giving the real estate industry regulator more latitude to promptly fine or penalize agents and brokers who violate the profession’s ethics and regulations.

The 2002 Real Estate Business Brokers Act (REBBA) is being renamed The Trust in Real Estate Services Act. The bill will provide homebuyers and sellers with more information and more choices, said Government and Consumer Services Minister Lisa Thompson.

The real estate market has changed beyond recognition in recent years, for example, the total value of all residential properties more than doubled in Ontario between 2005 and 2016.

Under the revamped legislation, home sellers would have the option of disclosing competing offers in a multiple buyer situation. Countless buyers have been duped by this scam pulled by realtors in connivance with home sellers. This has forced many buyers to pay thousands of dollars more for nothing.

The current rules require selling agents to tell all potential purchasers how many offers have been submitted for a property but they cannot disclose the monetary or other conditions of those offers.

The government is also changing the language around transactions where the buyer and seller is represented by the same brokerage — a practice commonly called double-ending.

The word “customer” will be eliminated from the forms and language used in those transactions.

The purpose is to make it clear that while the same brokerage can provide information to both parties of that transaction, it can really only represent and work in the best interest of either the buyer or the seller.

While many realtors may be upset with these new changes which compels them to act ethically, it should be viewed as a good thing by the real estate industry overall. Currently revoking a broker or realtor’s licence is easier said than done. It would mean going to provincial offences court and then to the licence appeal tribunal. A cumbersome process which allows many bad actors to get away.

Brokers will still be able to appeal but it will be a single-step process through the provincial Licence Appeal Tribunal.

The association that represents 86,000 agents, brokers and brokerages says the modernized real estate legislation will allow agents to incorporate so that they can defer some of their income and better ride out the highs and lows in the business cycle.

It will also keep realtors more honest by not allowing them to claim to be experts in any specific kind of property be it condos, commercial properties or cottages, unless of course they have some academic evidence to back up their claim. -CINEWS

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