BCREA says the move limits choice and may not protect consumers as intended
The BC government is set to ban the practice of limited dual agency, meaning home buyers and sellers will no longer have the option to choose one real estate agent to represents both parties in a single transaction, under strict new draft rules recommended by the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and announced September 7.
The move, which is intended to protect consumers from any conflicts of interests created by agents representing both parties in a transaction, may not have the desired affect and will also prevent many consumers working with their preferred agent, according to a response by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA).
"Every day, REALTORS® help their clients understand real estate transactions, so they can make informed decisions," said BCREA president Jim Stewart. "Over my nearly 25-year career as a REALTOR®, many long-standing clients have developed trust with me, and now my clients have no choice but to start from the beginning and build new relationships. Trust is a crucial part of what is often the largest financial transcation in people's lives."
The BCREA pointed out that the ban significantly limits consumer choice, as buyers may have a relationship with the listing agent on a home they want to buy, and will have to use an alternative agent. The association said it was concerned that this scenario could even lead some buyers, who might not be able to work with the agent of their choice, to opt out of working with an agent altogether.
"Rather than working with licensees they don't know, we're concerned people may decide to complete real estate transactions without representation," said BCREA CEO Robert Laing. "That goes against the consumer protection mandate of the Superintendent of the Real Estate and Real Estate Council of BC."
The BCREA argued that the practice of limited dual agency is crucial in small towns, in which there are far fewer agents for consumers to choose from. It said that it was "pleased" to see the BC government has proposed an exemption for smaller communities, however.