“If they’re fined, they won’t break the rules,” says Elli Davis, one of Toronto's highest volume sales reps. “I wouldn’t break the rules, but if I did and I was fined, I wouldn’t do it again. If you’re caught for speeding you usually slow down.”
The Council's most recent updates – which will take effect on July 1 – require agents to keep a physical record of every bid made on a listing, regardless of that bid's success. While RECO said the change is an effort to force better record-keeping among agents, many sales reps believe it's really an effort to curb the use of illegal phantom offers. The phenomenon hasn't been quantified but a growing number of agents have expressed concern that players in some of Canada's hottest markets are using those fictitious bids to promote multiple bidding situations.
RECO – and many successful sales reps, for that matter – argue that agents who value their real estate licenses will avoid engaging in that unethical behaviour. Those who persist, they argue, will ultimately get caught and face the consequences.
“It’s more (realistic to have) preventative measures and more punitive measures,” says David Fleming, a Toronto-based agent. “(It will) make people think, ‘I value my rea l estate license for the next 50 years. It’s not worth misrepresenting someone today to sacrifice the dollars down the line.’”
In addition, having a concrete punishment attached to the crime will, hopefully, make agents think twice before they engage in such practices.
“It’s too risky,” Davis says. “Why risk your license if you get caught? Why risk getting fined? You should never fabricate anything – not only in real estate! But (your real estate license) is your livelihood. Anyone who does that shouldn’t have a license.”
Agents are applauding RECO’s latest regulatory update – a move they hope will stop rule-breaking agents dead in their tracks.