Today BC Premiere Christy Clark announced that the government is going to end self-regulation in the real estate industry. The government is going to hire a dedicate Superintendent of Real Estate to take over all duties related to regulation, rule-making and discipline. Further to this, the make-up of the existing Real Estate Council of British Columbia is going to be changed to include more members who are not Realtors.

Real Estate Regulation

What does this mean for real estate in Port Alberni and across Vancouver Island?  While I have not had long to digest this news, I wanted to share my initial thoughts.

This news feels in part like a political maneuver with an upcoming election looming in which the skyrocketing costs of real estate ownership, and the unscrupulous actions of a minority of Realtors, in the lower mainland will undoubtedly be a major political topic.

In my experience in the industry, the norms and customs of Realtors in Port Alberni are far different than those in the lower mainland. As a local Realtor I’m often frustrated by the action of misconduct by Realtors in the lower mainland, and the minor punishments the offenders receive from the Real Estate Council of British Columbia. I can honestly say that things like shadow flipping don’t happen here. In this regard, I’m pleased with the governments vow to severely punish offenders.  It is important to those of us who treat real estate as a true profession, with morals and ethics, that the unscrupulous Realtors be stripped of their licenses.

I do not feel that more strict discipline will affect the Port Alberni real estate market; because I cannot remember the last time a Realtor I know did something to warrant discipline. 

The concept of having individuals outside the industry determining policy, gives me mixed feelings. It has been my experience that government is not always in the best position from a knowledge point of view to make these decisions. I suppose only time will tell. 

Once example of regulatory change that was brought up is the Limited Dual Agency, in which a Realtor works for both the Buyer and the Seller. In all honesty, this puts the Realtor in an impossible conflict of interest. However, having a separate Realtor represent each party is not without its drawbacks. When you are selling your house, you want to hire the very best Realtor, right? If this Limited Dual Agency rule is removed, the Realtor you hire will no longer be able to show your house to buyers.  I have serious misgivings about this being in the best interest of the Seller (or the Buyer). Do you now hire the worst Realtor to list your house, so the best Realtor can still show it? This is a classic rock and hard place, which reminds me of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”   

Finally, the government is stating that the changes are going to be made in part to address the unaffordability of housing in British Columbia. I have a very hard time imagining government regulation fixing this very real problem. Is it not more of a market economics problem? An immigration policy problem?

Only time will tell if these major changes to the real estate industry will be good for British Columbia. At this early point I don’t feel like it will have a major impact on the Port Alberni real estate industry.