A new administrative measure will be mandatory for all real estate brokers in Quebec as of November 9, announced the Authority of real estate brokerage in Quebec (OACIQ) at its annual event.
By Corinne Laberge
This La Presse article entitled "L'OACIQ serre la vis aux courtiers immobiliers" ("OACIQ tightens the screws on real estate brokers") deals with the subject. "Barely 16 months after the Quebec Real Estate Brokerage Act was amended to prohibit the same broker from representing both buyer and seller in a transaction, the rules will change again. Some brokers had found a way around this prohibition," reads the introduction.
To do this, real estate brokers are currently resorting to a "team strategy". During the visit of a property for which one of their brokers oversees the sale, another broker takes advantage of the opportunity to wait for potential future buyers with his or her card, seeking to represent them in the transaction.
"The seller's broker and his colleague representing the buyers each have personal information about their clients that is crucial to the transaction," explains the text. "Whether it's the difficult situation of a divorcing couple in a hurry to sell, a person in a bankruptcy situation or the floor price an owner wants to obtain."
In an interview with La Presse, Caroline Champagne, OACIQ's Vice-President, Enforcement of Practices, declared: "A broker can't say that he'll be able to disregard the information he knows about a client and switch sides whenever he pleases." Adding: "You can no longer be in a situation where you represent the other party, because you can no longer be loyal to them, you are no longer in a situation where you protect your client".
Inserting on the for-sale sign the phone number of a colleague wishing to pick up buyers calling to visit, rather than the number of the broker selling the property, is the other team strategy employed. "These practices, repeatedly denounced by consumers and brokers alike, are so widespread that the OACIQ had no choice but to intervene," it says.
The Vice-President, Enforcement of Practices, maintains that "by setting clear guidelines for the teams, they will be required to respect their obligations to prohibit double representation, to protect the interests of the client and to avoid placing themselves in a conflict-of-interest situation".
Thus, "whether there are three, five or twenty members on a team, all brokers will wear the same hat during a transaction: all team members will have to represent the sellers or the buyers", we summarize.
Finally, "the OACIQ will require brokers to officially register all team members, to have team contracts and to ensure that all team advertising is clear to the consumer".
Real estate brokers violating these rules face fines ranging from $2,000 to $50,000, license suspension or mandatory training.