18 Aug 2016

Ontario Real Estate Market Remains Self-Regulated, While British Columbia Accepts Change

British Columbia plans to end self-regulated real estate after B.C. Premier Christy Clark admits that the industry has failed to prepare self-regulation over the last decade. In a recent BNN report, Realtor Keith Roy comments on the change, adding, (I’m disappointed but not surprised).

Ontario, on the other hand, has no plans to change the method in which their market is self-governed. Unlike British Columbia, Ontario has managed to put several factors in place to act as safeguards against potential threats in the market. For example, all Ontario real estate agents are licensed, investigated, and disciplined by a group of their peers, known as the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

Roy adds, We’ve done a poor job as organized real estate in British Columbia as the stakes have gotten higher; the prices have gotten higher; and the emotions are running very high. We’ve done a bad job of educating new realtors and we’ve done a bad job of enforcing our standards.

One can’t help but wonder how these changes will affect additional markets such as Toronto Real Estate and overall MLS Listing services that may have been affected by these ill-governed methods. With the government taking back the industry, the Real Estate Council of BC has been removed from their ability to regulate agents and brokerages. This change came about, in part, as the province has been being watched after a Globe investigator discovered various unethical realtors working without real consequence.

What Roy describes as a “slap on the wrist” is the result of their lack of ability to manage unethical practices within the market. The Globe reporter found some wrongful practices, which were regularly occurring in one brokerage. Rather than take swift action, the league merely monitored the situation, which did nothing.

Premier Christy Clark plans to dedicate a new Superintendent to head the bird’s eye view of BC real estate. This could entail examining free home reports, watching over the MLS listings and generally checking into the ethics of realtors across the board, which would include both new and veteran realtors.

Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Marie-France Lalonde confirmed that the province does not plan to follow BC’s decision. With a jurisdiction that ends in Toronto, this would cover all current Toronto Real Estate Agents, Toronto real estate lawyers and Toronto Mortgage Brokers.

Toronto house prices

The Ontario real estate pricing and the market as a whole continue to have soaring prices, but the government believes they can continue to self-regulate. “We recognize the significant and effective role that the Real Estate Council of Ontario plays in regulating Ontario’s busy real estate industry and in enhancing consumer protection,” comments Lalonde. “Our government is not considering changes to Ontario’s real estate regulation model at this time.”

The plans in BC are meant to make the organization more buoyant and more receptive to consumer protection issues. While many realtors, and citizens alike, are generally against new government regulations and policies, at this point it would appear that any change in the right direction is an improvement.

When buyers and sellers are purchasing properties, they can now feel more comfortable that the individual they are working with is of the highest caliber, adds the Realtor, commenting that there will be new fines set in place that could cost wrongful doers hundreds of thousands of dollars, while presumably, taking their license away.

As it stands, certain wrongful agents seem to feel that fines are simply a way of doing business. For example, because the Vancouver and Ontario Real Estate Pricing models are so higher, a realtor making a $25,000 commission may not be too concerned with a $10,000 fine, if the act can continue regularly.

In order to stop some of these actions, in addition to the fine itself and possibility of a license being revoked, there are other factors involved. Some rules include agents no longer being able to represent buyer and seller, fines being raised to a staggering $500,000 maximum, and new provincial standards that include 28 updates to policy.

MLS Listings

The current Real Estate Council of B.C. is made up of 17 members, where 3 of these members work outside of the industry. The panel itself made the decision to split between those outside of the industry and the B.C. government decided to take this action one step further in regards to those outside of the industry.

Ontario’s council of 12 directors also includes 3 outside members. Joe Richer the registrar of the Ontario council has commented that they also plan to make similar changes within the committee. This would include accepting public complaints to avoid “…what happened to Ontario in the mid-1990s,” comments Richer. “I’m pleased that, by my tally, at least two-thirds of the improvements British Columbia is commit to, Ontario is already doing in whole, or in part.”

British Columbia’s finance ministry is working on the 28 recommendations from the independent council to create this new Superintendent of Real Estate. The current superintendent, Carolyn Rogers, is returning to Ottawa banking. The only question left unanswered is what will happen to those previous complaints that were left unattended during the previous, failed administration.

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