As self-governing, quasi-judicial bodies, we in organized real estate were charged with the responsibility to determine how the public will be served by our industry. This was not a responsibility that came easy.
It was only after local and provincial real estate boards and councils could convince authorities regulating us that we were in a better position than anyone else to educate and police ourselves. The Globe and Mail’s recent revelations regarding flipping or contract assigning against the B.C. real estate industry and the Real Estate Council of B.C.’s subsequent response to those allegations demonstrate that we have not taken that responsibility seriously.
Why does it take a third party to reveal this practice?
In our province the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission conducts random audits on licensed real estate brokerages. I believe this is the case in all provinces. Any thorough audit of a brokerage should raise red flags and reveal the wrongdoing if illicit transactions are taking place.
The Real Estate Council of B.C. promised an investigation and said, “it 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.” I’m not so sure that statement of that kind is enough to deter an agent who has already made a decision to do what is morally and ethically wrong and profiting tens of thousands of dollars or more by doing so.
Why has action not been taken before now?
If this is happening as frequently as the Globe’s investigative reporter stated, the odds are that one or more clients have already complained to the Real Estate Council of B.C.
If that has happened and those licensed agents who are involved in the scheme saw that there was minimal punitive consequence for the registrant investigated they have no reason to stop. Even better yet if no one has complained and the Council has simply chosen to ignore the practice.
Is there hope for responsible self-government in our industry?
That remains to be seen. That question rests with the individuals elected or appointed to our Councils and Boards.
They have been charged with the authority to investigate and take action against those registrants who do not act in the best interests of their clients. Consequences may include license suspension and monetary fines.
I believe there is hope. It will take sober, responsible leadership to earn the public’s trust. Whether you are a licensed agent or not, any observations on this ethical question that you’d like to share?
Posted by Barry Stuart