BC Premier Christy Clark has announced the real estate industry in the province will no longer be allowed to self-regulate through the Real Estate Council of BC.
The move comes after a panel set up to review the real estate industry issued a report containing 28 recommendations intended to overhaul governance of the real estate sector.
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“This report examines shady practices and challenges plaguing the real estate market, particularly in the Lower Mainland, putting consumers at risk and tarnishing the reputations of honest professionals in the sector,” said Clark in a release.
“We will act to protect British Columbians when they are making one of their most important family investments – purchasing a home.”
Clark also announced the government accepted all of the panel’s recommendations and would set up a dedicated superintendent of real estate.
The superintendent would take over the setting of regulations and rules governing the sector and restore public confidence, she said. The superintendent would also address other recommendations, such as a comprehensive Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and increased standards for realtors.
Meanwhile, the Real Estate Council would be repopulated with a majority of non-industry, public-interest members; currently 14 of the 17 positions are held by industry members.
Realtors face big fines
Also on the cards are penalties, for example the taking back of commissions, and increased fines for unlicensed activity, misconduct and other offences.
The report recommended realtors caught breaking the rules face fines of up to $250,000, up from $10,000. A half million dollar fine is proposed for brokerage misconduct.
The government is also banning realtors from offering dual agency representation – when an agent represents both the buyer and seller in a single home sale.
In the release, Finance Minister Michael de Jong said the government is planning more regulations.
“We are working on legislation that will expand the powers of the superintendent of real estate to address these issues, ensure appropriate public representation on the board, and implement higher disciplinary and administrative penalties,” he said.
The independent panel was created to review the real estate industry in BC after public outcry about shadow flipping and shady realtor practices.