Liberals' new real-estate announcements reactionary, says local realtor 

End of self-regulation won't help escalating housing prices

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LYNN MITGES - CLEAN UP A recent announcement by the B.C. Liberal government to end self-regulation of the real estate industry will not affect prices, said local realtor Pat Kelly.
  • photo by Lynn Mitges
  • CLEAN UP A recent announcement by the B.C. Liberal government to end self-regulation of the real estate industry will not affect prices, said local realtor Pat Kelly.

The announcement by Premier Christy Clark to end self-regulation by realtors will have little — if any — effect on sky-high housing prices in the South Coast region, says a long-time Whistler realtor.

"It isn't going to have any impact on housing affordability," said Whistler Real Estate's Pat Kelly.

"Anybody who believes that, they probably fall into that conspiracy camp and believe realtors set prices."

Clark's June 29 announcement to create a superintendent position in the Real Estate Council of B.C. is like "using a sledgehammer to squash a fly," said Kelly.

"It's unfortunate that government is taking such a paternalistic approach."

Recent stories of Lower Mainland realtors shadow-flipping — where a property is flipped, sometimes several times, before the closing date — have blighted the industry. But Clark's approach will do nothing to affect housing prices and is overkill for the honest agents who don't run rogue within the industry, said Kelly.

"Maligning and attacking this group of people because of a few bad apples isn't constructive going forward," he said.

"It almost seems like they did this for reasons other than just cleaning up the industry."

Clark's announcement comes on the heels of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) report one day earlier that made 28 recommendations to revamp rules for realtors and to further protect consumers, but did not have any provision to do away with self-regulation. The report also found that "alleged misconduct, combined with the perception that the Real Estate Council is unable or unwilling to take strong action to address it, has resulted in a loss of public trust."

Clark's initiatives include increasing the misconduct fines from $10,000 to $250,000 for agents; and up from $20,000 to $500,000 for brokerages. And the government also said it would do away with dual agency, or "double ending" where a single real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller.

"The consequences of making an error have accelerated and that's going to cause people to do things a little more carefully, which is not a bad thing," said Kelly.

"It's a little bit of a new world and people in Whistler shouldn't be overly concerned," he said.

"I think there'll be some clearer communication as to roles and responsibilities, which I like to believe in our office we already do."

Real Estate Council representatives did not comment, and instead pointed to a web statement: "The Council is ready, willing, and able to work with Government to implement the steps announced..."

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