Getting it Right: Real Estate Regulation and Commercial Licensing

Dec 16, 2019

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Posted by
Norma Miller

In 2021, the BC Government intends to integrate the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) into the BC Financial Institutions Commission (BCFSA). According to the November 12 news release, this move will satisfy a recommendation made by Dan Perrin in 2018 to create a single real estate regulator.

For several months, BCREA has worked with lawyers and member boards on a clear vision for a new, effective regulatory structure. We support the move to a single regulator, and strongly believe the regulator needs to inspire consumer confidence, make decisions based on practical knowledge and be easily understood by licensees and consumers.

With the restructuring, both OSRE and RECBC will turn into departments or functional units of the BCFSA, though the details haven't yet been determined. BCREA has 18 recommendations to help shape the new structure, including asking for clear separation between regulation of real estate development and real estate licensing.

Our most critical recommendation is that the BCFSA retain the equivalent of the RECBC's governing council, and at least half of the members of that council should be licensees. This will help ensure future changes to real estate practice are based on experience, can be implemented with minimal disruption and will have obvious benefits for consumers and licensees.

Commercial licensing?
Because we know changes to the Real Estate Services Act will be introduced in 2020, this is also the right time to explore a separate licence for commercial real estate.

Over the summer, BCREA worked with member boards on REALTOR® focus groups, and we also conducted a survey. According to the survey, 95 per cent of REALTORS® who already focus on commercial real estate support a separate licence. Fifty-six per cent who focus on residential are supportive, and only 25 per cent of REALTORS® think a separate licence is needed.

Introducing commercial and residential licensing could have a big impact, so it's important to look at it carefully. Without a clear direction, and because some significant questions were raised, BCREA's recommendation is that we work with OSRE and RECBC to examine commercial licensing.

We'll submit our recommendations on the regulatory structure and commercial licensing this month. BCREA looks forward to working with the regulators and the Ministry of Finance to create a stable, accountable, effective regulatory environment that meets the needs of licensees and consumers.

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