Realtor fined $4,000 for not getting client’s divorcing wife to approve sale price of Vancouver home

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      Divorces can get ugly.

      They become messy, and not just for folks splitting up.

      In one case, a realtor got entangled over the sale of the Vancouver home of a divorcing couple.

      As a result, Michael Charles Russell Stewart and his Mike Stewart Personal Real Estate Corporation were found jointly liable for professional misconduct.

      Stewart was ordered by the Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC) to pay a penalty of $4,000.

      Stewart’s offence?

      He did not get the approval of the divorcing wife of his client about the final selling price of the Keefer Street property.

      The Real Estate Council of B.C. posted online on July 9 its consent order regarding the complaint filed against Stewart.

      In 2015, Stewart was engaged by the divorcing husband to sell the property.

      The man did not inform Stewart that he was divorcing his wife.

      The client also did not advise the realtor of an existing court order directing joint conduct by the splitting couple in the sale of the property.

      The order covers choice of realtor, listing price, and sale price.

      Stewart was later advised by the divorcing wife about the court order.

      The Keefer Street property was listed for $580,000.

      Not long after, a buyer offered $578,500, or a price discount of $1,500.

      Stewart informed the divorcing wife’s counsel of the counter-offer.

      The counsel was unable to discuss the matter with the woman because the latter was at work.

      On September 22, 2015, before the divorcing wife’s counsel was able to communicate with her, the client advised Stewart that he wanted to accept the counter-offer.

      The client accepted the change in price, and Stewart sent the woman’s counsel a revised contract with the accepted sale price of $578,500.

      The divorcing spouse had not signed the revised contract.

      Stewart believed that his client discussed the counter-offer with the divorcing wife.

      On November 30, 2015, the divorcing spouse’s counsel asked that $1,500, which was price discount in the sale, be taken from Stewart’s commission, and returned to the man and woman.

      Stewart did not agree to reduction in commission, believing that he was properly following instructions from his client.

      Stewart prepared a consent order proposal for an RECBC review committee.

      In the document, Stewart noted that the Real Estate Services Act and its regulations do “not address a licensee’s obligations in the circumstances of this case”.

      However, Stewart acknowledged that the RECBC has “issued guidance in a newsletter advising licensees that both spouses must be involved in decisions relating to the sale of family property, even if one spouse is not on title”.

      Stewart has no prior disciplinary case. He has been a realtor since 2005.