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B.C.'s 'cooling off period' for home sales should be scrapped, say Realtors

The 'cooling-off period' is being used by buyers to put offers on multiple properties and places sellers at a disadvantage
B.C. is not "seeing a lot of people rescind," according to Royal LePage COO

Some would-be home buyers are abusing B.C.'s "cooling off" period for real estate transactions, which is causing issues in an already low inventory market, according to Royal LePage.

Throughout the province, "few buyers" are utilizing the B.C. Home Buyer Rescission Period legislation gives people several days to rethink a potentially hasty home-buying decision, said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, in a release on the country's housing market. 

"Unfortunately, we are seeing people blatantly abusing the program by making offers on multiple homes as they shop around, locking up scant housing inventory as if clothing in a retail store," Soper said. "The legislation is harmful, not helpful, and should be amended or scrapped."

The province's Rescission Period also called the "cooling-off period," came into effect at the beginning of January. It allows buyers a window of three days to renege on their offer.

According to the Ministry of Finance, C. was the first province to implement a home-buyer protection period for resale property and newly constructed homes, 

Karen Yolevski, chief operating officer for Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., said that the "cooling-off period" also disadvantages sellers. 

"They are now having to wait until the rescission period is over before they're able to make a move on a house that they might want to make a bid on, and in a low inventory market, that's going to create some challenges for sellers," she said. 

If a buyer puts a bid on a home on Friday afternoon, the sellers have to wait until the next three business days have passed if they want to make their home purchase with a solid bid in hand, according to Yolevski. 

"It creates a bit of confusion and frustration, is really where this could go, particularly in these low inventory markets," she said. 

In the release, Randy Ryalls, general manager for Royal LePage Sterling Realty, said that Greater Vancouver continues to sustain low inventory and high competition among buyers. 

"The price correction we experienced over the past year is now behind us. I expect we'll see a modest uptick in prices in 2023 as demand continues to outpace supply," said Ryalls. "While we hope to see a boost in home inventory over the spring months, it is unlikely to be enough to feed the continuously rising demand we're experiencing." 

The confusion and competition driven by the rescission period only add to existing pressures on pricing, according to Yolevski. 

The average residential price seen on MLS decreased by 12.6 per cent to $961,451, compared with the average price of $1.1 million in March of last year, according to the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). 

Between February and March 2023, the average residential price across B.C. rose by 2.2 per cent, according to Brendon Ogmundson, the chief economist at the BCREA.