Real estate agents and brokerages around the province need to be subject to higher fines for malpractice and steeper ongoing training requirements to become and stay licensed, the British Columbia Real Estate Association this week said in a letter to the Independent Advisory Group (IAG), which is looking into real estate practices.
The letter comes in the wake of two high-profile investigative stories by the Globe & Mail exposing cases of unethical application of contract assignments, AKA “shadow flipping” and, this week, alleging that one brokerage, New Coast Realty, is training some of its agents to carry out illegal practices. These investigative articles have sparked a host of related stories throughout the local press.
“BCREA fully supports the IAG’s work, and any measures that improve consumer trust and REALTOR® professionalism,” stated BCREA president Deanna Horn, a Langley agent for more than 30 years.
“I’m pleased to say that most of the 20,000 REALTORS® in the province take pride in representing their clients ethically and honestly. When that doesn’t occur, we encourage consumers and REALTORS® to make complaints.”
"There’s always room for improvement,” added BCREA chief executive officer Robert Laing. “The work of the IAG is a great opportunity to see what can be done better, and BCREA has some clear recommendations."
BCREA’s letter includes the following recommendations:
- The Real Estate Council of BC needs to speed up its complaints and disciplinary process;
- The RECBC should increase fines for unethical and illegal practices – “including 100 per cent of improper gain, where that is a factor”;
- Specific professional education courses should become mandatory for licensees, including those on contract assignments and keeping on top of contractual changes;
- Buyer agency contracts should become mandatory; and
- Lawyers and notaries should be subject to the same restrictions over contract assignments as are proposed for licensees.
The Real Estate Council of BC and Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver have both also reacted firmly to allegations of malpractice by agents.
Last week, the council called on agents to file complaints against other licensees where they see unethical or illegal practices.
And a result of the Globe's investigation into New Coast Realty, the RECBC has issued licence conditions for the brokerage and is fully investigating the matter.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has also tripled its minimum fines for agent misconduct.