Group promises reforms to protect buyers in B.C. real estate market

VANCOUVER – An advisory group looking at allegations made against British Columbia’s real estate industry says it expects to make recommendations that include bigger penalties for those who breach the law and a simpler complaint process for consumers.

In a progress report submitted to the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, the group says it also expects to suggest limiting the ability of real estate agents to represent both buyers and sellers in the same transactions.

The advisory group chaired by real estate superintendent Carolyn Rogers was appointed by the council in February to improve consumer protection and strengthen public confidence in the industry.

The progress report released Tuesday says it expects to suggest giving the council more enforcement tools, such as requiring all contract assignments to be reported directly to the council.

The practice by some Metro Vancouver agents allows a contract to be resold multiple times before a property deal closes, driving up prices and commissions.

The report highlighted 10 areas where the advisory group expects to make recommendations.

Council chairwoman Marylou Leslie says it is looking forward to strengthening consumer protection based on the advisory group’s work.

“We are pleased by the breadth and scope of the topics that are under consideration in the progress report, and by the indications of the strong enhancements to the regulatory framework that the independent advisory group is looking at making,” she said in a statement.

The group says it expects to meet an early June deadline to deliver its final report and recommendations.

“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,” Rogers said.