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BCNREB raises concern over dual-agency ban

The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board says it is disappointed in a decision by the province's real estate regulator to ban limited dual agency.

The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board says it is disappointed in a decision by the province's real estate regulator to ban limited dual agency.

The move, announced Wednesday by Michael Noseworthy, the superintendent of real estate, comes without clear practice guidelines for small offices, the BCNREB said in a statement issued Friday.

The practice - where a single realtor represents both the seller and buyer in a transaction - has raised a concern over conflicts of interest and self-dealing for agents.

But BCNREB president John Evans says the new rules are "a response to problems arising in the very large and very busy Lower Mainland market" and will put smaller offices at risk of closing.

It could force BCNREB vice president Court Smith into making a tough decision.

"I broker a small office in Williams Lake and have real concerns going forward," he said. "According to lawyers and instructors contacted by the Board, the type of agency meant for larger offices just cannot be properly practised in smaller offices.

"Will I have to close my office and lay off my licensees? I am hopeful that the superintendent will find a solution soon."

Realtors can apply for an exception the ban but only for properties so remote that finding another agent is extremely difficult.

Dual agency has been linked to questionable deals and the controversial practice of "shadow flipping," where the properties are purchased and then resold multiple times for a higher price before the original deal closes and often without the original seller's knowledge.

"Ending dual agency removes the potential for conflict and serious problems," Noseworthy said in a media release. "We want to create transparency for both consumers and licensees to ensure everyone understands in whose interest licensees must be working."

BCNREB "strongly supports" changes clarifying licensee disclosure requirements to consumers, saying they largely codify information real estate agents provide now.

The dual agency ban, which comes into effect on March 15, 2018, is part of the first major rules to be introduced by the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate since the provincial government ended self-regulation of the real estate industry last year and transferred rule-making powers from the Real Estate Council of B.C. to the office of the government-appointed superintendent.

In a response to a request for comment, OSRE spokesman Mykle Ludvigsen said there are provisions for what is called a designated agency.

"An agent within a managing broker can delegate their authority on that transaction to a third agent in order to facilitate a transaction," he said in an email.

"The Real Estate Council of B.C. has specific procedures that need to be followed in this scenario, and we have have been in communication with the Northern Board in regards to this today."

- with files from Vancouver Sun

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