Today, NDP housing critic David Eby held a news conference alleging that the B.C. Real Estate Council is not interested in investigating how some agents are profiting by assigning contracts to themselves, other buyers, or colleagues. This afternoon, the council issued the following statement:
"The Real Estate Council of British Columbia is a regulatory agency established by the provincial government to protect the public interest by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements of the Real Estate Services Act. The Council has become aware that some licensees may be engaging in business practices that are contrary to their clients’ best interests. We are deeply concerned by these matters and we invite members of the public who have been directly affected by any improper business practices of licensees to contact us. The Council’s investigators will look into the matters and disciplinary action will be brought against licensees who have breached their legislated duties.
"The Council’s auditing program regularly inspects brokerages to confirm that their business practices comply with the legislated requirements, including proper handling of client funds and disclosure by licensees when buying and selling properties. The Council also has a strong and ongoing Complaints and Discipline process that can result in disciplinary decisions against licensees ranging from fines and suspensions, to cancellations. These regulatory processes exist to protect buyers and sellers.
"As recently reported in the news media, assignments of contracts are legal in B.C., as they are in the rest of Canada. Assignments are typically used when buyer demand outstrips supply, as in the current Vancouver real estate market. The Council is appointing an independent advisory group to investigate whether assignment clauses are being used appropriately, and to develop recommendations to increase the Council’s enforcement and oversight of non-disclosure by licensees investing in properties. We realize that this is an urgent matter and expect to announce the members of the multi-stakeholder advisory group within the coming two weeks. We will be asking the group to report back to the Council with initial recommendations in sixty days.
"Discussions have already begun between the Council and the Superintendent of Real Estate to identify possible measures that may strengthen the public protections available to real estate buyers and sellers. We look forward to continuing these discussions and to keeping members of the media and the public apprised of the results.
"The Council will be reminding all licensed real estate professionals, in the strongest possible terms, of their legislated duty to act in the best interests of their clients. Whenever we become aware of a licensee who fails in this duty, by putting their own financial gain ahead of their clients’ interests, that licensee can expect to have their actions investigated and may face disciplinary action from the Council. Brokerages have a responsibility to supervise and manage the activities of licensees engaged at the business, and brokerages who do not comply with these requirements can also expect to face discipline."