As self-governing, quasi-judicial bodies, we in organized real estate were charged with the responsibility of determining how the public would be served by our industry. This was not a responsibility that came easily.
It came about only after local and provincial real estate boards and councils convinced authorities 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 British Columbia’s subsequent response to those allegations demonstrate 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 any wrongdoing.
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 a statement of that kind is enough to deter an agent who has already made a decision to do what is morally and ethically wrong.
Why has action not been taken before now?
If this is happening as frequently as the Globe’s investigative reporter stated, the odds are 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 there was minimal punitive consequence, they have no reason to stop. They have even less incentive to do so 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, are there any observations on this ethical question you’d like to share?