RECO aims to crack down on shady agent practices
In July, the Real Estate Council of Ontario, which regulates the province’s real estate agents, is introducing new rules requiring selling agents to keep records on successful bids for six years and retain the details of unsuccessful bids on file for a year. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, it will also be illegal for agents to claim they have other bidders unless they’ve received formal offers in writing. The changes will give the regulator more power to respond to consumer complaints by requiring agents to show proof of all written offers on a property. They will also crack down on phantom offers, something the council says is rare, but has generated tremendous public attention. “The concern nowadays with the fairly hot market we’ve had for a number of years is that either people are not told they’re in competition and therefore can’t make an informed offer or perhaps they don’t know for sure how many people they’re in competition with,” deputy registrar Bruce Matthews said. Regulators have sought to crack down on some of the industry’s shadier practices, such as fake bids from agents trying to drive up the selling price of their listing and agents who represent both buyers and sellers.
Genworth braces for possible downturn in Alberta: CBC
Mortgage insurer Genworth is making changes to its underwriting practices in Alberta as it braces for an increase in delinquencies in the region. President and chief executive Stuart Levings said Genworth is exercising "heightened vigilance" in underwriting home purchases in Western Canada in light of the sharp decline in oil prices. We haven't pulled out of the market by any means," Levings told an investor conference hosted by National Bank on Tuesday. "What we're doing is we're looking at the stacked risk factors a lot closer — so people that have higher debt service ratios, that are employed in the oil and gas sector, that may be dependent on one income versus two, that are buying a home with five per cent down — we're going to take a lot closer look at that deal." According to the CBC article, mortgage defaults, which have been at all-time lows in recent years thanks to fairly stable home prices and employment figures, are expected to rise "modestly," Levings said. In Alberta, the increase will be more dramatic, driven by layoffs in the oilpatch.
Board: Fort McMurray sales dive 65 per cent in February
Fort McMurray real estate sales are in freefall, according to an article in the Huffington Post, as the price of oil continue its downward slide. Numbers released by the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board show that total sales there, along with the communities of Saprae Creek, Gregorie Lake and Anzac, plummeted by 64.7 per cent in February compared to a year ago. (This number takes into account all housing types, including single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, condominiums and mobile units with land.) According to the numbers, year-to-date sales figures aren't much more encouraging. Last year, 227 transactions had taken place as of February; this year, it's 94, for a drop of 58.6 per cent. As well, the average price of a single-family detached home has also fallen from $789,740 to $746,202 in the same period. Read more on REP here.