Lies on the MLS targeted by regulators

by Olivia D'Orazio04 Nov 2014

It may be your clients telling you inaccurate information to bolster viewings, it may just be a simple mistake – but in both cases you are liable for placing an inaccurate listing.

“The listing that appears on the MLS is fundamentally an ad that is placed by the sales rep,” says Bruce Matthews, the deputy registrar of regulatory compliance for the Real Estate Council of Ontario, “and they have to assume accountability for the information that’s there.”

But my seller told me so is also no excuse for white lies in listings, Matthews says, arguing the onus is squarely on agents to ensure due diligence has been properly completed.

Matthews pointed to two particular provisions in RECO’s code of ethics that are most frequently complained about. The first is regarding inaccurate representation – “For example, if you’ve got a home that is 1,900 square feet but the listing suggests that it’s 2,000 square feet,” Matthews says.

The second provision aims to prevent error and misrepresentation. For example, a listing that suggests a home is made of brick, when it’s really just a brick front, with siding on the rest of the home.

“All of their dealings in a trade require honesty, integrity and professionalism,” Matthews says.

Other common complaints revolve around things that Matthews says are easy for agents to look up. For example, the age of the building, the square footage of a unit, the annual property taxes, and whether the driveway is shared or private. The water source is also an issue for more rural properties, and in the condo market, listings often confuse what legally constitutes a bedroom – oftentimes the space is just a den.

“The responsibility is entirely on the rea l estate sales professional,” Matthews says. “It’s information that is easily verified and it’s important for agents to verify that before it goes in the listing.”
 

COMMENTS

  • by Ali 11/5/2014 12:02:04 PM

    Perhaps we should a have some rules on how to determine square footage. Every professional i've dealt with has a different way of calculating square footage, some add walls, some do not, some add garage, some do not, some add basements, some do not, etc. Developers have their own set of rules as well.

    It would be nice for a standardized approach to measuring square footage that all relators follow.

    <a href="http://www.aliabbas.ca">Ottawa Real Estate</a>

  • by DJ 11/5/2014 12:07:33 PM

    What ever became of the old system " Buyer needs to verify for himself" -- the reality is: we as agents do not need to provide information to buyers - so why do we mandate that we have to provide specific information e.g. why do we mandate a need to state a homes square footage - the problem is our associations mandating we provide information which opens the door to our assuming liability - If we do not want to provide information and the seller is ok with that then we should be allowed to add the letters "INP" for Information not provided.

  • by David 11/5/2014 12:10:05 PM

    Good point Ali. There should be a standard. TREB makes an attempt at handling this by listing the data source for square footage (measurement, builders plan, seller, etc....)

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