CBC’s Marketplace: Friday Night At 8:00pm

Most Realtors are hoping that at 8:00pm tonight, every person in the city of Toronto is taking part in some sort of “Earth Hour” and turning off their TV’s.

But I’d rather get out ahead of this, and bring your attention to a program that’s set to air at 8:00pm, that is hoping to “expose” Realtors and their dirty tricks.

CBC has clearly gone to great lengths for this story – using “hidden cameras” and sending in actors to try and catch Realtors doing something shady.

So let’s chat about whether the program tells the whole story, and whether or not the “system” in real estate needs to be adjusted…

CBC

Positivity just doesn’t sell, does it?

Look no further than this year’s United States election, and you’ll see: negativity sells.

Neither candidate is talking about what they want to do for the country, and how they plan to bring it back from the abyss (that’s my word – where I think they sit), but rather the platform of both candidates is to slam the other, as hard as they can, and hope that people vote for the one they hate less.

Negativity has always sold in the media, and its creeping into other arenas in the battle we call “everyday life” as well.

When it comes to real estate and the media, I’ve seen nothing but negativity for twelve years.

I got into the business in 2004, and everything I read was negative.

Every media report was about the imminent collapse of the real estate market, and since then, nothing has really changed.

I do a lot of media appearances, and I have a fantastic relationship with the media.  For that, I’m incredibly grateful.

But when I get emails from columnists or reporters, who are always seeking to find the next sad-sap for their article, I always joke with them, “Nothing positive to say today, huh?”

They write what sells.

And when the new mortgage rules came into effect, I was contacted five different times by media members looking to write columns, or film news stories, about those who could no longer get into the market.  I told one person, “I have never had a client go on camera to look stupid, sad, and poor, so I stopped asking them years ago.  I’m always amazed when you guys get these sad-saps to go on camera.”

The person wrote back, “We always find somebody.”

They look until they succeed.

But for that story, they didn’t seek out individuals or couples who weren’t affected by the new mortgage rules.

I went on CTV News At Noon last Wednesday, and I told them that my mortgage broker ran his own “stress test” with 100 random files from his office, and only TWO of the one hundred approved applicants wouldn’t have passed the stress test.

Two out of one-hundred.

But the media reports didn’t talk about the other 98%.  They only sought to tell the story they wanted to tell, which was that people would, from now on, have a tougher time buying real estate.

I have some very good friends and colleagues in the media, so they know I’m not slamming them.

In fact, most of them agree with my assessment – that negativity sells.

So it should come as no surprise that the CBC set out to “expose” an industry that they believe is corrupt, by secretly video-taping real estate agents who are clearly breaking the law.

Friday night at 8:00pm, on CBC – there’s a much-anticipated program airing, and I think everybody should watch it.

The real estate community has been waiting for this for two weeks.

On Monday, October 24th, every licensed Realtor was sent this bulletin from the Real Estate Council of Ontario:

RECO Ask Joe

Since then, the whole real estate community has been discussing, what could be in the video.

On Wednesday, CBC released this trailer:

 

Well, I suppose this is news in 2016.

Hidden cameras, setting people up – it’s news.  People watch it.

People watch the Kardashians as well, and they’re not even real humans…

To be honest, I have no problem with the story; I don’t want to sound salty because of the content of the story, since I know this sort of thing happens, and I’m certainly not denying it.

But I feel as though CBC isn’t going to make any mention that this “happens rarely” or that this is “the actions of a few.”

The public is going to see what they want to see, and draw their own conclusions, and as negativity is so prominent in today’s society, I think the viewer will come away thinking that this is the norm.

Then, I think the viewer will take that one step further, and determine that high real estate prices are not a result of supply and demand, but rather there is a bad guy out there, and it’s Realtors.

The “bad guy” has been sought, long and hard, by the public over the last few years.

We almost had a bad guy for a while there – he or she was Asian, and was coming over here and “stealing properties from hard-working Canadians.”

But the market has continued to rise, and the “story” about the foreign buyer has died down.

So here comes a new bad guy, and he or she wears a suit with no tie, and carries a leather padfolio to every appointment!

When the story about Vancouver “shadow flipping” hit the wire back in February, it made headlines, and as I’ve said before on several occasions, the author, Kathy Tomlinson, changed the real estate landscape forever.

I enjoyed the story, and the follow-up stories.

But even I suspected that the story was blowing up into something more than it really was.

And talking to agents in Vancouver, I was led to believe that this “problem” represented a minuscule fraction of the overall market, and it was perpetrated by a very small number of agents, in a sort-of “underground club.”

Let me be blunt, at the risk of offending anybody: the shadow-flippers, almost exclusively, were a group of probably a couple dozen Asian real estate agents; a small subculture or pocket of the overall Realtor-pool, who worked together, and did what they did.

But this wasn’t really explained in any of the coverage.

The coverage, in my opinion, might have led the public to believe that the problem was rampant, or that everybody was doing it.

So when it comes to the CBC Marketplace story on Friday night, I think that viewers should take it with a grain of salt.

It’s a news story, and news is not reported, but created.

There’s news out there everywhere; every minute of every day, all around us.

But what is reported depends on what sells.

And negativity sells.  No doubt about it.

I have no doubt in my mind that “double-ending” goes on in real estate under suspicious circumstances.

But it’s not the norm.  Far from it, in fact.

And it’s worth mentioning that most of the houses owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, that were sold by a couple agents in one blitz a few years back, were “double-ended.”  Maybe there is a story somebody wants to investigate, and find out why a government-owned body like the CBC is so interested in double-ending, but a government-owned body like the TCHC turned a blind eye to it a few years back.

But as far as the CBC story and the issue of “double-ending” goes, I have one simple question that I would like you all to debate today:

Should a brokerage be able to represent both buyer and seller in a transaction?

It’s a simple question, but with one caveat.

“Multiple representation” is defined as the same brokerage representing the buyer and the seller, in the same transaction.

Not the same agent.

The Real Estate & Business Broker’s Act, and RECO, do not distinguish between the two.

So my question to the readers, and to everybody, whether you have a vested interest in this or not: should a brokerage be able to represent both buyer and seller in a transaction?

I’m not the only one asking the question.

Literally as I sat here writing this on Thursday night, I got the following notification on Facebook:

BobAaron

There’s Bob Aaron, one of the most notable Toronto real estate lawyers, and frequent newspaper columnist, asking the question.

But before we answer the question, let me give you a bit of a history lesson.

Once upon a time, a brokerage took a listing and sought to find a buyer for that listing.  It was that simple.

Buyers would approach brokerages to see what listings they had.

Buyers would make offers, via those listing brokerages, for those properties they had listed.

And agents within a brokerage sought only to sell the listings that they had under contract.

That was the way it used to be.  100% dual agency.

And then along came this novel concept called “cooperation.”

Agents from different brokerages began to cooperate.  They started to allow other agents from competing brokerages to bring offers on their properties, with the promise of compensating them.

And then along came the Multiple Listing Service, and that was a game-changer.

Consider that until the mid-1980’s, there was no such thing as “buyer agency.”

I can’t recall the exact case law (please share if you know it off hand), but until this case, every single licensed agent was bound by a duty to serve the seller’s best interests, regardless of who they thought they were working for.

It’s true.

Before the change in the 1980’s, you, as a buyer, had to know that the agent representing you, owed the better standard of care to the seller.

Suffice it to say, the establishment of buyer agency was a long time coming.

So fast-forward to today, and we have listing brokerages and cooperating brokerages, and we have listing agents and buyer agents.

So do we want to take things a step further, and institute regulations that prohibit any brokerage from representing the buyer and the seller?

That, ironically, would be the complete opposite of how real estate was sold, say, fifty years ago.  It would be a complete 360.  We’d go from only representing both buyer and seller to never representing buyer and seller.

Ultimately, I think it would cripple some agents, and brokerages, and it might have an adverse effect.

As a buyer, you would almost want to be represented by an agent who works for a brokerage that has no listings!  Otherwise, you risk not being able to offer on that brokerage’s listings.  Against your own best interests, you’d have to find some hack agent who works for a hack brokerage, who don’t have any listings!

So is banning multiple representation really the answer?

Or can we maybe, just maybe, acknowledge that the CBC program airing on Friday night is attempting to paint the whole industry with the same brush?

As for the idea that one agent can’t represent both buyer and seller, if you thought of this, then you’re smart; you’re following along.  The problem is, what’s to stop a listing agent from simply handing off a buyer to a colleague, so that colleague can make the offer and demonstrate arm’s length?

I’m sure you have other ideas, and my cynical side can tell you why those wouldn’t work either.

I’ve always thought that the manager or broker of record should be in charge of reviewing offers when there’s an agent with his or her own offer on his or her own listing.  But the problem with that is many brokerages are one-man operations, or fly-by-nighters, or discount brokerages that the public seemed to want oh-so-much, even though none of them are doing any business.

So could RECO force these one-off brokerages to have an on-sight manager, in their non-existent virtual offices, to oversee regulations and best practices?

Well, it wasn’t my intention to end on such a sour note, but it’s come from a sour place; this idea that real estate is rampant with corruption, and it needs fixing.

CBC’s Marketplace will be an interesting watch, and it’ll ruffle a few feathers, spawn 1000’s of online comments, and eventually it will fade away.

But the idea of how to properly deal with multiple offers, and/or multiple representation, will not go away.

Banning multiple representation is not the answer.

So I ask you: what is?

23 Comments

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  1. Audra says:

    I was coerced to sell my home in Toronto. It was my ancestral home and I had NO INTENTION OF SELLING. I am physically ill (disabled) and since the move have become worse. The sales rep lived next door. I was extorted, put under tremendous duress. The rep approached my husband WHO WAS NOT ON TITLE. The rep used fear tactcs, damaged my property (literally) smashed my furniture and threatened me
    Now I am so sick, no future, my marriage of 30 YEARS is broken. He was extremely strategic – just dealt with my husband (AGAIN: WHO IS NOT ON TITLE) This must be illegal! Where do I turn to for HELP? This home has been in my family for over 1/2 a CENTURY. The home was my only means of support. I created a Trust so the home could not be touched – yet the rep found a way to break an irrevocable Trust! Finally he got the purchaser financing as their financing fell through. I don’t like being threatened either verbally or physically and I was. How can he get away with assault? How is this allowed to go on? Somebody please respond.

  2. David says:

    It is important to note that CBC specifically targeted the agents that had 20%+ of their transactions involving double-ending. That’s like going to an Irish bar on St. Paddy’s day and finding out that 6 out of 10 customers had consumed enough alcohol to get drunk. If they had polled 10 random agents in high-demand neighbourhoods the results would have been much different.

    What was laughable was the straight-faced response to the penalties for a first time offender:

    “We see a fine in the $3-5K range”.

    So a shady agent can make an extra $25K from double ending a deal ($1M house) through unethical means, and runs the small risk of both being investigated AND being convicted – and they have to give back a max of 20% of their additional commission.

    1. Real estate millennial says:

      The numbers only represent those that successfully double ended the transaction. The better question is how many agents attempt/offer to cross the line because you don’t have to be caught to be unethical. The problem is a big problem and I truly believe that agents attempt unethical behaviour to un-representated buyers far more than they are successful.

    2. Condodweller says:

      Targeting the highest risk candidates who are most likely to offend is a logical way to go about it. Now if 60% drunks are found in Irish bars on St. Paddy’s day what percentage of the general population gets drunk 10%, 20% maybe 30%? That’s still different from a few bad apples.

      I just thought of one more way a seller’s agent can extract maximum cash for his/her buyer: tip off a higher amount for the buyer i.e. if the highest offer on a house is 900k and the agents tips off the buyer to 950 who in turn offers 955k.

      What really bothers me is these agents are not satisfied by the already too high compensation for the work performed and want to double it. I wonder when this dam is going to break. I know a commission structure for sales similar to real estate where the compensation is a graduate scale i.e. first $15k is 10%, next $10k is 7% with next $10k 5% and anything above is 2%. I realize this may not work for real estate as agents would get less for incremental higher prices but it would be more fair.

      The more I think about this the stronger I feel about eliminating double ending/agency.

  3. Ralph Cramdown says:

    For me, the best moment in the show was the seller’s agent who said to unrepresented prospective buyers that she was working with another agent whose buyers had offered $960 but who were “willing to go higher.” If she was telling the truth, they caught two agents screwing their clients by talking to one. If not, just a casual lie.

    Best actor award goes to RECO’s Kelvin Kucey, in the role of Captain Louis Renault, who is shocked — SHOCKED, to discover this behaviour, and, rather than employing mystery shoppers to ferret it out for himself, wants CBC to name names so that RECO can either deal with the problem as narrowly as possible, or claim that its hands are tied absent more evidence and a formal complaint. Worst actor goes to the guy who made losing a suburban house on a big lot seem like losing a child.

  4. IanC says:

    No shade to honest realtors and agencies, but I just watched the show online and I am could not believe the audacity of the crooks that they filmed. I agree that the current punishment, if ever applied, is laughable. If I was selling a house, and my realtor blocked a deal that was 30K higher so that they could double end with their lower bidding client, I would be fuming. They might as well have stolen a blank cheque from my house and wrote it out to themselves for 30K. That is not a matter for RECO to regulate, it’s for the investigators to lay criminal fraud charges and put people in jail. One good thing out of this, is that the people who were filmed and indicting themselves, blurred faces or not, are rightfully crapping their pants tonight. Well done !

    1. Condodweller says:

      I just watched the show, and I’m blown away. You learn something new every day! Prior to the show I thought the only person to lose out would be a buyer who loses out because a double ending agent coaches their buyer to put in a winning bid by leaking the highest bid.

      I never thought they would have the audacity to block a higher bid. I agree this is a criminal act and the police should go after them but I would hope in this case Rico pulls their license and they should never be allowed to work in the business not only in Ontario, but in any other province.

      The question is how do sellers and buyers protect their interest against this type of fraud? This gets messy real quick. Even if a buyer’s agent asked to see all the offers, by the time the deal was signed what’s the legal implication. If, and it’s a big if, Rico decides to investigate can the deed be undone and have the seller anull the deal and accept the true highest offer?

      I liked how the minister and Rico pointed the finger at each other. Who then is the one who could change the rules? I thought Rico was a self-governing body which would suggest to me that they can change the rules. Although I’m sure the government can have a say as well.

      What is disturbing is that 6 out of 10 agents offered to cheat for the undercover buyer if they double ended the deal. Of course this isn’t exactly scientific and I don’t know how many people shop for houses without their own agent, but you gotta think we are not talking about just a few bad apples here. It will be interesting to see what David’s take will be on this.

      The fact that 60% of an agent’s deals are double ended makes you wonder how wide spread this practice is.

      Based on what I have just seen, I would definitely ban double ending and double agency as well because there is no way to police that two agents at the same brokerage won’t tip each other off. The Australian auction system is definitely more fair, but haveing said that I would want to take the pressure out of it as I know how out of hand auctions can get when people have to make a choice in the heat of the moment. Speaking of heat, I’d hate to stand on a street corner in -20C to bid on a house.

      I doubt any of these agents are crapping their pants because CBC will not hand over the names and even if they did they probably would not investigate without significant public pressure. If they really wanted to find them I’m sure they can as the voices were not changed. I know I would definitley recognize my own agent’s voice and would be happy to report him/her. Heck they can do their own under cover investigation and start disciplining their agents. Mind you it would have to be more than 2-3k!

      1. IanC says:

        David had posted about a realtor who blocked his deal before to likely double end. But the guy sounded like a sleazy rascal that had “crook” tattooed on his forehead. I figured he would raise red flags so that most sensible sellers would take their business elsewhere. So when you see it on video, and the people are relatable, and some hireable, the story takes off. There’s a big difference between reading about a police beating and watching it on video. As for the realtors crapping their pants – I don’t see them getting formal punishment, but I do see reddit and facebook and twitter and social media giving it to them. They might even be a bit embarrassed, well, some of them. A few disgruntled sellers (despite getting a “super” price) will also recognize them and may be reaching out to them over the weekend. Happy Saturday everyone !

        1. IanC says:

          Scrapping double ended deals might not be the best idea, but it’s better than the status quo which ENCOURAGES fraud. Doing nothing is irresponsible. I don’t think it CAN GET WORSE THAN IT IS NOW.

  5. Condodweller says:

    The best deterrent is consistent punishment. Reco needs to be seen handing out material fines where each agent knows if they cheat they will either lose their license or pay a hefty fine. This is basic psychology. They should also make it easy for the public as well as other agents to file a report and of course, they have to actually investigate them.

    I like it how David is front running the story and telling people to take it with a grain of salt. The bottom line is it’s happening and we don’t know how wide spread the practice is. Everyone with a stake in the industry will naturally down play it saying it’s only a few bad apples, where consumers and the media will believe it’s wide spread practice and we will never know.

    Rico should be able to test for phantom offers since they have to be submitted. I’m sure even an unscrupulous agent runs out of brothers/sisters to put in an offer and eventually the same name will show up multiple times. I don’t know how these records are stored but the best way would be if there was a central database that each agent has to update with all their offers and then it’s the simple case of running reports to check for patterns.

    Regarding double agency, sure two agents can work together but that’s awefully hard to prove. Then again even if one brokerage were not allowed to handle both sides, what will stop an agent from working with someone from another brokerage?

    Unfortunately the only way to keep things fair, I feel, is for Reco to hold all agents to a very high ethical standard, and any infringement should be punishable by death….i.e. termination of license. In a court of law you have to be proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. In this case the agent should be guilty at the first sign of the shadow. It’s not like there aren’t enough agents out there if a few get tossed. According to David it’s rare anyway. I know it seems harsh but all agents have to be squeaky clean to maintain trust. There is nothing to worry about for ethical agents and the rest, well it’s their funeral.

  6. Real estate millennial says:

    I personally don’t believe that multiple representation is the underlying issue, the real issue seems to be commission or compensation and unethical behaviour behind it. The real estate sales industry has always been portrayed in a negative light so this is nothing new. If we’re really being honest about the industry and not taking the negative publicity personal there is a huge problem. Many realtors will make the argument that a real estate transaction is a significant financial endeavour and you should deal with a qualified, experienced, full-time realtor. The majority of realtors are not qualified to speak about real estate. I don’t don’t even think most realtors hold business degrees which should be the floor level of education if you’re dealing with such large “assets”. This is the approach of the appraisal institute of Canada why can’t Crea or reco adopt these measures. Consumer confidence in realtors is the real issue, this seems to be CBC’s way of illustrating that point. I believe that the reco needs to stop worrying about the number of members paying dues and start focusing on lifting the image of its members.

    1. Condodweller says:

      Very well said. Raise the barrier to entry. Great point.

  7. Kramer says:

    I just sold a property and my agent double ended the deal. I got a discount because of the double ending, which was AMAZING. I also felt more certainty that the deal would close smoothly, and that there would be no tom foolery, which was another added bonus for me.

    Score: Advantages 2: Disadvantages 0

    As for the controversial aspect. Simple fact: at the end of the day, depending on the weekend, and who shows up, a property can sell for +/- 5% of your expected value. Maybe more, +/-10%. Maybe it’s different for condos than detached houses. The only point here is that neither you nor your agent are certain of what it will sell for.

    Because of this completely transparent uncertainty, sellers need to do their due diligence. Look at comparable sales histories, get estimates from several real estate agents, and be comfortable with what you think the house is worth and what RANGE OF VALUES in which you would happily accept an offer. You cannot second guess this after the sale… the very next week it could have sold for $20,000 more just by chance, because some distressed buyer is trigger happy… it could have also sold for $20,000 less. Only hindsight is 20/20.

    If you do your due diligence, and your agent gets you a price in your acceptable range, then the fact that they are double ending the sale only provides additional advantages for you.

    If you’re looking for a lottery win, tell your agent that. Tell them that 10% over fair market value is the lower limit of your range of acceptable selling prices. Only then will you be able to tell which agent is irresponsible. The irresponsible one will promise you 10% or more over fair market value. The responsible ones will tell you to adjust your expectations.

    1. Joel says:

      I agree with you on doing your homework, but the point of having an agent is to do it for you. They should be representing you and you should not be worried that they are not trying to get you the most money possible instead of them getting the most money possible.

      For the most part I think that dual representation is fine as long as the seller understands the real estate market and is competent. In the investment world an individual needs to prove that they have a semi-advanced understanding of investments before they are able to invest in riskier offerings. Something like this would help to ensure the sellers aren’t being taken advantage of, but would be very hard if not impossible to implement.

      1. Kramer says:

        Generally speaking I agree with you. If it were so obvious that an agent refused to look at offers from anyone other than his/her own other clients, then this person should go to jail for a year, you know, sit one out. But a firm representing buyer and seller doesn’t necessarily mean that is the case. It’s the exception, not the rule. In fact, many double ended deals result in a truly FAIR deal. The likelihood of an UNFAIR deal is higher if you have one irresponsible agent and one shark agent working on opposite ends of the same deal. Which begs the question, is an UNFAIR deal OK as long as you’re on the right side of it?

        Where I disagree is that you leave it all up to the agent. Whether they double end the deal or not, there is always incentive to close a deal faster. The 2.5% commission on an extra $10,000 in sale price (= $250) is not worth having to show it for an extra week. So I don’t care who you are, who your agent is, it is the Seller’s responsibility to establish a range of acceptable values on their own, through research and by interviewing multiple agents to get expected values. The seller is the one who has to sign on the line for a deal to get done. The seller has to make the decision to accept. All an agent can do is 1) market the property 2) run an auction 3) Do the paperwork. All very difficult, but the decision is in the hands of the seller and they need to be equipped to make that decision. If you don’t do your homework by interviewing a few agents and getting estimates on market value and deciding what is an acceptable range to sell, shame on you. If you are mentally or physically unable to make this decision based on your own due diligence, then you should assign someone you trust the power to do it on your behalf.

        Treat your finances like a business. Do you know what a public company would go through to sell one of it’s major assets? Think they would just call up an investment bank and say “Hey! Sell this, get the most you can, see you in a month.” They would potentially do years of due diligence and corporate finance exercises on their own before going to a broker/ibank of any type asking about and going to the market.

        1. Condodweller says:

          “All an agent can do is 1) market the property 2) run an auction 3) Do the paperwork. All very difficult,…”

          These are not at all difficult if, as you suggest, you are willing to do some work. 1. MLS is all the marketing you need. 2. Let’s see, set an offer review date, look at the offer(s), if there are more than one, accept the highest, or send them back for a second round and then accept the highest. 3. The paperwork is easy. If you pay for a listing on MLS the broker will provide you with all the paperwork you need.

          Setting price expectations for real estate agents is not a good idea as a lot of agents will agree to list for your price just to get the listing. If your price is higher than market price you will probably not get it. You are better off with an agent who will give you a realistic price he/she can back up with comps.

          1. Kramer says:

            They’re difficult to do well. That is why there are good agents and bad agents. If they are easy then it wouldn’t matter what agent you use. But it does matter, doesn’t it?

            I didn’t say to set an expectation with the agent, I said to set a acceptable price range for yourself based on your own findings and your interviews with many agents. You need to do this since you are the one making the decision on whether to accept a deal or not.

            If you set your own acceptable price range then if an agent tries to stiff you on a double ended deal, you will know not to take it.

            Jesus why is everyone so against doing their own homework and due diligence?

            Your agent is there to make you a market and facilitate the sale your home.

            KNOW YOUR NUMBER!

          2. Condodweller says:

            @Kramer They are not difficult to do at all for the selling agent. It’s the buyer’s agent who has to do the offer which can be tricky (though I’m sure one can find the proper clauses to include or have your lawyer do it for you), but as the seller, all you have to do is either accept the offer or send it back. I know, I sold my last condo. The only question is, what’s the fair market value of your house. Anyone should be able to gauge it by looking at listings, even if they don’t get an agent to provide a valuation.

    2. jeff316 says:

      Well put.

      There are many aspects of our real estate sales system that work well for informed, savvy and strategic buyers and sellers. Certainly there are unscrupulous agents out there. The question is, does banning dual agency reduce the opportunity for shenanigans enough to make it worth eliminating that tool for the well-informed client?

      The worst thing about the Marketplace documentary was the Australia vignette. Yes, let’s take our possibly over-heated real estate market and apply rules and procedures from maybe one of the only more overheated markets in the world than ours.

      Don’t like the current system? Just wait til you’re standing on someone’s lawn throwing out numbers like it is a cattle auction.

  8. Kyle says:

    IMO, this is one of your best blog posts ever! So many truths here, especially when it comes to calling out certain media outlets for manufacturing negative real estate stories to get more clicks and sell more advertising/subscriptions. The stories often involve painting the entire real estate industry, sellers, investors, or players as greedy geniuses fooling the public. But the irony is that in pure “greedy genius fooling the public” fashion, The Globe who has done more than it’s own share of manufacturing news, is now capitalizing on the CBC’s manufactured news, by writing a story about the upcoming Marketplace show. Yes that’s right – manufactured news square. And in predictable fashion, the story quickly racked up tonnes of angry comments by people who’ve clearly never actually used a real estate Agent, trying to “tell it like it is”. Negative real estate stories and the angry ignorants that lap them up have become their own self-sustaining circle jerk industry.

    As for what the solution is to “the problem” of multiple representation, that is actually a very easy answer. Simply enforce the rules that a;ready exist. An ethical person stays onside because he fears his conscience, an unethical person stays onside because he fears the consequences. And right now there are no real consequences. Perpetrators have no fear. RECO does not actively try to catch perpetrators, instead it relies on other Agents/Brokers to be whistle-blowers (something no Agent wants to be). Even after a complaint is made, the follow through and consequences are immaterial. This has lead to complacency to report this kind of behaviour. RECO can send all the finger-wagging emails it wants, but until they actually start enforcing the rules and setting meaningful fines or repercussions, they will be nothing more than a puppet.

  9. Long Time Realtor says:

    I obtained my real estate licence in 1986 when contractual buyer representation did not exist. The prevailing practice at the time was known as ‘sub-agency’ and was based on the legal theory that all agents and brokers represented the interests of the seller. Talk about farcical, but we all played along because that was the law of agency at the time.

    It wasn’t until the early ’90’s that buyer representation was invented and imported to Canada from the U.S. It was considered radical at first and resulted in a rush of legal opinions and additional paperwork. Did it make sense – of course it did.

    The issue of dual agency or double-ending, has always been problematic. Banning it poses some difficult concepts. For example, there are many large brokerages with multiple branch offices and hundreds of agents. Banning dual agency would effectively remove many potential buyers from offering on a particular brokerage’s listings, since legally it is the brokerage and ALL of its agents that have a contractual and fiduciary responsibility to the seller once a listing agreement is executed.

    Many states, notably Florida and Colorado, have created the option of abolishing agency altogether, in favor of a concept known as Transaction Brokerage. These states have created the option of having no agency or fiduciary relationship between brokers and sellers or buyers. Having no more than a facilitator relationship, transaction brokers assist buyers, sellers, or both during the transaction without representing the interests of either party who may then be regarded as customers.

    Perhaps it is time to import another American invention up here to the great white north.

    1. Joel says:

      The notion of Transaction brokerage is really interesting. I think that could be a great way. Act more as a consultant than a commissioned salesman.

  10. Ralph Cramdown says:

    There’s two problems with the “only a few bad apples” theory. First is that we don’t really know the extent of the problem, even though we could. TREB (or OREA) could hire a competent statistician for a day or two and find out what % of deals are double ended, differences between DOM and sale % list price (and maybe appraised value) for double ended and cooperating deals, and any anomalies in those differences for the agents who double end more deals than is typical. But TREB isn’t going to do that, is it?

    The second problem with the “few bad apples” theory is that it neglects the fact that, often, they do a disproportionate amount of business. Home Capital had a problem with “a few” (45) bad mortgage brokers, who between them wrote $1.75 billion in business, or 7% of Home’s book.

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