Supporting Efficiency and Confidence in Real Estate

Nov 01, 2018

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Posted by
Matt Mayers
Senior Policy Analyst

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BC’s approach to real estate licensing is unique. Since 2016, we've had two regulators:

  • The Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) makes rules related to licensing and real estate practice and oversees and directs the operations and activities of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia.
  • The Council administers the Real Estate Services Act, regulations, rules and bylaws, and upholds and protects the public interest in relation to the conduct and integrity of licensees.

This co-regulatory system has not worked very well, as noted by the independent review released by Minister of Finance Carole James on September 27. Real Estate Regulatory Structure Review was prepared by lawyer Dan Perrin. He found that the current system is unsustainable, and the central issue is policy development. To fix the situation, the regulatory structure and the process to develop policy must be changed.

The example Mr. Perrin uses to illustrate the policy development challenge is significant changes to real estate practice rules that took effect on June 15, 2018. Mr. Perrin found that OSRE and the Council didn’t collaborate effectively, resulting in inconsistencies between the policy intent of OSRE rules and policy interpretation by the Council.

One of these changes was a ban on the practice of limited dual agency. Limited dual agency occurs when one REALTOR® represents more than one party in a real estate transaction. That can be the buyer and the seller, more than one buyer or a landlord and tenant.

While BCREA supports consumer protection, we understand the ban on limited dual agency is having the opposite effect in many cases. In small communities with very few REALTORS®, consumers are often forced to work with REALTORS® they don’t know, REALTORS® from outside of the area or to simply represent themselves.

And the limited dual agency ban certainly wasn’t designed for the commercial real estate market. People who buy and sell commercial real estate are sophisticated, and they receive advice from a variety of professionals, including lawyers and accountants.

In October, REALTORS® from around the province presented MLAs with solutions to these challenges that will help smooth the transition to the new rules. Giving consumers greater clarity on their rights and giving licensees more certainty and guidance will create the confidence needed to use limited dual agency in cases where it’s in the client’s interest.

BCREA has also made many recommendations to improve our regulatory system—including the need for more input from professionals with practical experience—and we look forward to learning Minister James’s next steps for regulatory reform.

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