Panel highlights 10 areas to improve consumer confidence in B.C. real estate industry

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      No official recommendations have come forth yet from an advisory panel created earlier this year to look into shadow-flipping and other controversial real-estate practices.

      But a "progress report" has highlighted 10 areas in which the panel plans to make recommendations. Here's what was mentioned in a news release issued today:

      • additional enforcement tools for the Council, such as requiring the reporting of all contract assignments directly to the Council;

      • limiting the ability of real estate licensees to represent both buyers and sellers in the same transaction;

      • significantly increasing penalties for those who violate the Real Estate Services Act and creating greater flexibility in the types of infractions that are subject to penalty;

      • authorizing the Council to require disciplined real estate licensees to disgorge commissions and profits over and above penalties received;

      • simplifying the complaint process for consumers by eliminating duplication between the Real Estate Boards and the Council, and increasing transparency;

      • ensuring that expectations for managing brokers and the Council’s powers to hold managing brokers accountable are sufficient;

      • examining business models, such as unregulated ownership structures for brokerages, to ensure they do not weaken the ability of managing brokers or the Council to ensure compliance;

      • restructuring the proportion of public and industry members on the Council’s governing board to reflect current best practices for governance;

      • removing any deterrents that may prevent licensees from reporting misconduct;

      • ensuring that resources and services are easily accessible to the public and available in multiple languages.

      The panel is chaired by Carolyn Rogers, CEO of the Financial Institutions Commission and B.C.'s superintendent of real estate.

      “Members of the Independent Advisory Group have been focused on the public interest since the beginning of this process,” Rogers said in the news release. “While we have not included recommendations in this report, we are very clear on what needs to be done, and I’m confident the final report will meet public expectations of a stronger and more effective regulatory system.”

      The panel was appointed by the Real Estate Council of B.C. after NDP housing critic David Eby held a news conference alleging questionable and unethical practices. Those included selling assignments to purchase several times (a.ka. shadow flipping), unbeknownst to the original homeowner, and filing false documents with FINTRAC, which is a federal regulatory body that monitors money laundering.